In “The Edge of Seventeen”, Nadine is an angry, confused, and intelligent American teenager trying to fit in a world that rejects her. Or so she thinks. On one hand, her friendship with Krista, Nadine’s BFF since pre-school, is threatened when she starts dating Darian, Nadine’s much hated brother. On the other, Nadine’s love interest seems way out of her league due to her personal issues with sex, disenchantment, and her own identity. In top of it all, a tragedy involving her family seems to doom it all. Is there any hope for Nadine?
There is hope for her, and for us in the audience. And if you are thinking of going to see a great film this week, here are some reasons why you should pick this one.
1) This is not another stupid teenage movie
Produced by Hollywood legend James L. Brooks, The Edge of Seventeen ignores the usual topics of the genre, such as bullying the nerd/fat/cheerleader/jock, and actually digs into some serious stuff. It does take place in an American high school, yes, but the dialogue is sharp, the characters feel alive and the overall story sparks. The sense of honesty that shines through the whole picture is directed beautifully by writer-director first timer Kelly Fremon Craig. We’re not the only ones who noticed either, as she was awarded ‘Best First Film’ by The New York Film Critics Circle earlier this year. Definitely keep an eye out for her in the future!
2) Great cast
A great script would be nothing without great actors, as the one playing Nadine, Hailee Steinfeld. At just 20 years old, she already has an impressive resume (Oscar nominee at 14 for her portrayal of Mattie Ross in the Coen’s True Grit, Ender’s Game, Pitch Perfect 2…). Her portrayal of Nadine, mature and immature, comedic and dramatic, hateful and lovable, all at the same time…, shows how talented she is. Hayden Szeto steals a few scenes -and a few hearts- as Nadine’s classmate Erwin, who falls in love with her. Absolutely memorable is the scene where Nadine calls him and they exchange at least one minute of nonsense salutations over the phone. By the way, this is Hayden’s first Hollywood movie, he is playing a teenager and you don’t have to feel too weird about fancying him by the way, cause he’s actually 31 in real life. (Not too shabby for an acting first timer, if you ask us). Last but not least, Mr. Bruner, the teacher, played by Woody Harrelson. He is cool, yeah, but not Dead Poets cool, he watches the clock, he wants to go home. But he gets Nadine, he understands her particularities and eccentricities… and she has a few of those. Their special bond is one of the highlights of the movie.
3) The final message (not just for teens)
Teenagers can be stupid, sure. They can be selfish and loud, and they can hate their parents for no reason, and… and… they eat a lot of shit and don’t put any weight on! But they are much more than that. As Nadine’s mum says in the film, ‘everybody else is as confused and empty as you are, only they disguise it better…’ It is ok to feel different. Because you are. We all are. Love yourself the way you are. Maybe it’s not the world who is rejecting you, but instead you rejecting yourself.