The Edge of Seventeen: A Coming of Age Film That Does the Classics Justice
December 16, 2016
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When another comedy-drama hits theaters featuring angsty teens and their irrelevant issues, it’s most people’s tendency to turn away, disgraced by the thought of any high school-themed film attempting to top the iconic “Breakfast Club” or “Sixteen Candles.” Not to say that writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig has surpassed John Hughes’ classics, but “The Edge of Seventeen” may be one of the firsts to come close.
After high school junior Nadine, played by Hailee Steinfeld, rushes into her history classroom and announces to her teacher, played by Woody Harrelson, that she is planning her impending suicide, the plot flashes back to her childhood.
Here, an awkward, seven-year-old, Nadine refuses to get out of the car and face her peers as she watches her older brother, Darian, played by Blake Jenner, run to his cluster of elementary friends. This becomes a trend throughout the film, eventually burning all that Nadine thought she had to the ground.
Back to present day- Darian and Nadine’s best friend, Krista, played by Haley Lu Richardson, are caught romantically and the downward spiral of reckless behavior and confusing interactions begins. As if this girl does not have enough on her plate, now her best friend and her brother are a “thing.”
Steinfeld’s performance forces you to love Nadine’s witty, sarcastic, slightly stubborn persona, not because she’s personable, but because she’s relatable.
Nadine will pull every ounce of secondhand embarrassment out of you as she attempts to drown her sorrows by experimenting with boys, lashing out at her mom, and complaining about her popular and more attractive older brother.
The movie dives into a world of reality, to the point where audience members cringe after seeing the lead in uncomfortable positions they’ve also been in. There is minimal romanticizing life as a teenager, which is uncommon for movies of the same genre that showcase parties, alcohol, and relationships while disregarding the consequences completely. The dialogue touches on self-hatred, typical drama, and the struggle of trying to feel confident and wanted in halls full of judgemental millennials.
What is interesting about the film is it’s surprising R rating. While “The Edge of Seventeen” does feature some vulgar language and sexual content, it is a movie about high schoolers, making the fact that the majority of teens can’t legally watch the movie alone, quite ironic. I guess that just emphasizes the film’s realistic portrayal of a seventeen-year-old’s experience- without the extra edge, the storyline could have easily become cliché.
It’s a movie for seventeen-year-olds, as the title suggests, but the film also caters to adults looking for a glance back at their premature, embarrassing teenage years. “The Edge of Seventeen” delivers an engaging dash of innocence, while braving the more raunchy, explicit teen themes, but this cohesive blend of opposites results in what most people would consider a spitting image of the beautiful catastrophe that is high school.