“The Edge of Seventeen” (2017)
Running Time: 104 minutes
Written/Directed by: Kelly Fremon Craig
Featuring: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner
Nadine: “There are two types of people in this world. The kind that naturally excel at life, and the people that wish those people would get blown up in an explosion”.
There are very few universal commonalities that exist in the world, one of those is the passage of adolescence, this is a stage of life that can sometimes make or break a person, depending on many things, which include family, friends, cliques and the kind of teachers one has to steer through this rocky time of life. “The Edge of Seventeen” lets us view this complex and intense time of life through the eyes of Nadine, as portrayed by Hailee Seinfeld, who has over the past six years blossomed on screen since her memorable role in the Coen Brothers “True Grit” (2010) for which she received an Oscar nomination.
Steinfeld in “The Edge of Seventeen” is in her first completely solo leading role with a character that is believable, and shows us that being seventeen is not easy – it can be a time when emotions are on the surface and bounce around ones psyche like no other time in your life. She shows the inner and the outer struggle of living a life that is not perfect and with her supporting cast shows us that no ones life is perfect.
“The Edge of Seventeen” primarily revolves around Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) who has always been a loner and a little difficult – her mother Mona (Kyra Sedgwick) favors her older brother Darian (Blake Jenner) whereas Nadine is closer with her father Tom (Eric Keenleyside). At school, Nadine is constantly bullied for being different. One day, she befriends Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) and the two end up becoming best friends. At thirteen her and her father get into a car accident after Tom begins to have a heart attack behind the wheel. The next day, he tragically passes away, which spirals Nadine’s life to four years of misery.
As a 17-year old junior in high school, Nadine continues to suffer from depression and social anxiety and Krista is still her only friend. In contrast, Darian is a handsome, fit, and popular athlete at school. When Mona leaves town for the weekend, Nadine invites Krista over for the night, and the two end up getting drunk. After Krista takes care of Nadine in the bathroom, she ends up talking to Darian. The next morning, Nadine walks into her friend in bed with her brother, which leads to a feud between the three of them that spans for several days.
The film is rounded out with Kyra Segwick as Nadine’s mother, and Woody Harrelson as one of Nadine’s teachers who while being a quip machine is there when Nadine falls hard – and boy does she. However, while Nadine’s brother and best friend are also great, my stand out newcomer is Hayden Szeto as Nadine’s go to guy Erwin, who becomes a confidant and sounding board and is there for her every step of the way. He is certainly a young actor to watch out for in future roles.
Even though the film stays true to most other coming of age films where everything ties up nicely at the end and almost everyone has some kind of revelatory moment or an understanding of some sort – and Nadine as the heroine of the piece makes her way to some kind movement towards her future she goes from a loner to possibly having a new clique and the ability to make new friends. It is also a revelation to watch her as audience member watching Erwins short film and see her slowly realise there is an entire world she knows nothing about – but really wants to learn about it.
This is writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig’s first film and it is an auspicious debut with a great cast and a very good story – whilst not completely original it has enough spark and comment to get ahead of the pack – particularly at this time of year. As well as this it is produced by producer/writer/director James L. Brooks who over the years has directed similarly emotion films such as “As good as it gets” (1997) so this is completely in his wheelhouse and his experience shines through on this film.
This is a very good film and I recommend to all – go see as soon as possible. In fact i can see it and Seinfeld’s performance making top 10 lists from critics and hopefully this will lead to some awards attention.
If you enjoyed this then try these:
“Some kind of wonderful” (1987)
“Sing Street” (2016)
“Pretty in Pink” (1986)