Director: Kelly Fremon Craig
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson & Kyra Sedgewick
Synopsis: High school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother.
Rating: 15 Duration: 100 minutes Release date: 27 March (UK)
It can be a hard task for any film to be honest, let alone a film that has its feet firmly planted in the teen drama genre. Often with these types of film we are encouraged to like the films protagonists through the strife they suffer or generally being picked on by one bully or another. Rarely do we find that their worst enemy is themselves. First time director Kelly Fremon Craig is asking us to do just that and find sympathy with a mouthy, spoilt teenager. That is no easy task, but somehow Craig gets us there kicking and screaming.
High-school, in any decade, has never been easy – unless you were one of the lucky ones who fell into the cool group. Everyone else will have suffered varying degrees of embarrassment or ridicule at one point or another and we are naturally inclined to sympathise with the characters in these films who have befallen the same, albeit exaggerated, events that we have. Step forward Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), a clumsy teenage girl who labours every point and sucks the atmosphere out of every room. She’s a drama queen and tends to think the whole world is against her. These points may well ring true from the audiences own adolescence, but the catch here is that Nadine isn’t very likeable. She’s annoying and even on a quiet day speaks at 100 mph. Even so, Nadine is an endearing young girl; she calls herself an “old soul” and seems to be trapped in an endless cycle of shit, made worse when her only friend begins dating her brother whom she has nothing but contempt for.
Teen dramas live and die by their leads and The Edge of Seventeen is no different. Hailee Steinfeld, who made a star turn seven years ago in the Coen brothers True Grit, is an extremely enjoyable lead. She exudes confidence and at only 20 years old is proving herself to be a wonderful actress. Despite her characters annoyances, Steinfeld remains charming and funny with a nervous disposition in social quarters that makes her even more endearing. Despite the parameters set by the film and Nadine herself, we find ourselves enjoying the time spent with her even though she does her best to make us think otherwise.
Alongside Steinfeld we have Woody Harrelson as her bitter and sarcastic English teacher whom she shares an affinity with and the two provide some of the films best moments. Kyra Sedgwick does good work as Nadine’s erratic, stressed-out mother, while Blake Jenner and Hayley Lu Richardson provide able support as Nadine’s brother and embittered best friend.
What is perhaps the most important aspect of The Edge of Seventeen is its first time director – Kelly Fremon Craig. Many of the great teen dramas have been directed by men; Easy A, Sixteen Candles and Mean Girls for example, but Fremon Craig’s standpoint makes The Edge of Seventeen seem more realistic than most. It’s possible to speculate that the film draws on some of her own experiences as a teenager and it’s easy to see how the experiences of Nadine may well have been shared by the films director.
It all makes for a very enjoyable film. The Edge of Seventeen is bitter yet heartfelt and excruciatingly funny throughout. It speaks to the viewer in a way that not all teen dramas do and feels all the better for it and deserves a place among the best of its kind.
- Deleted scenes
- Gag reel