There’s nothing quite like the thought of yet another American teenage coming-of-age story to send shivers down the spine and make you roll your eyes to the back of your head.
That’s exactly what The Edge of Seventeen is, however, its quirky humour and a relatable touching narrative is a delightful journey of the dreaded teenage years.
Written and Directed by the inexperienced Kelly Fremon Craig – who has clearly been inspired by the likes of John Hughes – The Edge of Seventeen see’s pop star slash fledging actress Hailee Steinfeld – who back in 2011 saw her breakthrough in the Coen Brother’s True Grit – in the lead as Nadine, an angst-ridden, awkward teenager who has no idea how to make friends and the simple act of her brother dating her best friend is the end of the world.
As the picture opens Nadine is on the brink of suicide and reaching out to her disillusioned History Teacher Mr. Bruner, played by the ever brilliant Woody Harrelson with a malevolent humour who has an underlying soft spot for our female protagonist. We are instantly whisked back to Nadine’s early childhood, bullied with no friends but soon bonding with her lifelong best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). As we are taken on a journey of the girls growing up together, Nadine suddenly loses her Father which completely changes the dynamics of her family. Nadine, hardly ever getting on with her Mother, was very much Daddy’s little girl, but now he has gone she feels very much the black sheep with her brother Darian (Blake Jenner), being the blue-eyed boy, as the typical jock that everyone loves, he simply can do no wrong in their mother’s eyes.
The Edge of Seventeen thrives on its character-driven narrative, the detailing of each prominent character has their own story. Even with Nadine’s loud and sometimes obnoxious aroma of nobody loves me and I suffer more than anyone else oozing out of its pores we still get to feel for all the characters, building that sacred bond with the audience that is lacking in most teen coming of age stories. It’s this detailing that deliver’s the touching moments; some may even resonate with its viewer as one minute your snorting with laughter to reaching for the tissues the next.
As we arrive full circle to where we entered, Krista is now dating her Brother, her world has ended, her jealously has seen her cut off her friendship to Krista and Nadine has no friends apart from the nerdy yet popular and totally adorable Erwin (Hayden Szeto) – a young filmmaker who is completely in love with Nadine. Nadine makes blinkered mistake after mistake culminating in one hell of a teenage strop as she steals her mum’s car and ends up having a realistic sibling blazing bust up with her brother Darian where everything is thrown into the mix including Nadine not thinking he loves her. All this time, like many teenagers, Nadine has been blinkered and only thought about herself, how she feels not even taking into consideration what those around her may be going through themselves.
Cast performances are nothing but superb and Steinfeld is quickly etching herself a career as one to watch for the future as she immerses herself into this character. The plot is your bog standard teenage angst, coming-of-age story but the realism and ability to connect to its audience makes this stand out from an overcrowded stage. Those of us old enough to remember, those who truly loved 80’s movies of the same vein i.e. The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and the likes will be pleasantly filled with nostalgia.
The Edge of Seventeen hits cinemas November 30th.