Edge of Seventeen

You’re right about everything. I’m only here for me, and my life is fucking incredible. I love it. I love spending another night talking mum off the ledge, I love only applying to schools nearby, because who knows what’ll happen in the house if I’m not around to fix it, and I love that the one person who makes me feel like I could take a fucking breath… I can’t have without completely destroying you. So, you’re right. You’re right, it’s a blast. I win.

Year Released : 2016

Director : Kelly Fremon Craig

Cast : Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Blake Jenner, Haley Lu Richardson, Kyra Sedgwick and Hayden Szeto

So for a change I am writing this opening section after I’ve watched the film, which is very strange for me as I normally like to talk about what I hope for the film in this opening section.

I wasn’t even initially going to review this because “Edge of Seventeen” is far better known than I tend to go for when reviewing, but as England were eliminated from the World Cup half an hour ago (at the time of me writing this sentence), I needed to cheer myself up, so that combined with not writing a review for a while, has made me decide to go a bit against type.

I first heard of this film in late 2016 when I started as a supervisor at a cinema. It was in one of the screens but didn’t interest me because I wasn’t in my “I will watch pretty much anything” mode.

So yeah, here we go.

Plot

Nadine (Steinfeld) was always a loner child that didn’t socialise until she met Krista (Richardson) early in life. The two became inseparable, especially after Nadine’s father died when she was just 13 due to a heart attack. Nadine has a strained relationship with mother Mona (Sedgwick) and brother Darian (Jenner), and she feels she can only confide in Mr. Bruner (Harrelson), her teacher.

One day Krista is staying around Nadine’s house and starts a conversation with Darian late at night that ends with them sleeping together. Nadine is mortified and ends her friendship with Krista, and starts trying to seek male attention herself, initially with Erwin (Szeto) and more specifically Nick (Alex Calvert).

As time goes on her life gets more out of control.

So why did this put you in a good mood?

Admittedly I am now in my mid-30s and I didn’t grow up in America, nor was I ever a teenage girl, but for me this is one of the most accurate representations of teenage life that I can remember seeing. In my teens I was also an outcast and kept trying my own thing, so I can definitely relate to Nadine, who is played excellently by Hailee Steinfeld. It is easy to see why she gets the critical praise that she does.

I’d only seen Steinfeld in one movie before, the remake of “True Grit” in which she was also fantastic. She is equally laudable here and it is truly remarkable that she makes what is ultimately a very selfish character likeable. Let’s not beat around it, Nadine is likeable, but everything she does and says makes you realise just how tedious she would be to put up with.

Blake Jenner (who I had also seen in just one movie) puts in a calm performance as Darian, and the character is interesting because you only hear about him from Nadine’s perspective and narration, but not once does he do anything that suggests he is as bad as she makes him out to be.

I could sit here going through the cast all day, each has their own thing that makes them highly watchable, and without revealing who, I am exceptionally glad that she ended up who she does (or at least implied ends up with) because it felt right for the story, and more importantly a choice that she would make given everything you’ve seen up until that point. No character feels wasted and that is very refreshing for a genre that has become mightily tedious to watch in the last twenty or so years.

Even smaller characters, such as Nick, feel realistic and you can certainly relate to why they do what they want to do. A lot of films from the teen genre have at least one larger-than-life (in an unrealistic) manner that constantly stops you feeling like you’re watching something that could actually happen (such as Stifler in the “American Pie” series or Barry in “Road Trip”). This story could take place in your own hometown, hell, you could even be one of the characters yourself, whereas a lot of other films of a similar nature don’t have that.

“Edge of Seventeen” is one of the most complete coming-of-age stories I’ve seen put to screen in recent years.

Had I watched this in 2016 when it was released at the cinema, it would have comfortably made it into my top twenty (it was an exceptionally good year for film), maybe even my top ten.

Summary

One of the best teenage-centric movies I’ve seen, certainly one of the better of the 21st century. “Edge of Seventeen” gets it right in so many areas and the cast is utterly fantastic. No-one puts a foot wrong and you’re with them all of the way.

Steinfeld puts in a remarkable performance as she makes you like and care for a character that is everything a central character shouldn’t be. She heads up a highly competent cast and an excellent execution.

This is one of the easier approved stamps I’ve given for a while.

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