Growing up is hard and life is no easier when your a dork in high school like Nadine (Hailee Steinfield), at the height of her awkward adolescence. It doesn’t help that her beefed up arrogant brother Darian (Blake Jenner) begins dating her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richard). Nadine wallows in her solitude until she brokers an unexpected friendship with a boy (Hayden Szeto), giving her something to strive for.
From Ferris Bueller to American Pie to a more recent Perks Of Being A Wallflower, I really enjoy teenage rites of passage dramas. Like Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Edge Of Seventeen stands out from the crowd. It’s a free spirit that plays by no rules but its own. Having just hit 21, there are elements in the movie that I can recall in my recent teenage history yet there are elements where I feel myself breaking new ground, like having an obscenely rich friend who you can randomly call to swim in their pool.
One of the best things about this picture is its lead, Hailee Steinfield. She first caught my attention in the True Grit remake, helmed by the Coen Brothers. She was nominated for an Oscar at a mere fourteen years old, and as Nadine she really captured my heart. It’s impossible not to feel bad for her. As any teenager will tell you, “you don’t understand” and they carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. She thinks she’s different to other kids who text each other about tacos they’re currently eating and communicate with emoticons. This is the world we live in, a world full of fake emotions and a generation of kids who meet up to text each other whilst in the same room. I know, nothing makes sense.
It has to be said, I’ll watch Woody Harrelson in anything. From True Detective to The Hunger Games to LBJ to Seven Pounds, the man is a great actor, even if the script is garbage. He achieves the best out of every role. In this film, he plays Nadine’s teacher Mr Brunner. Quite frankly, he’s an asshole but he’s not 100% a dick. He effortlessly gives us some of the best comedy value in the movie. Hayden Szeto as Erwin is gold and soon, Nadine and Erwin become “old souls” together as the world doesn’t understand them. He’s a hybrid of Big Bang Theory’s Stuart and Howard Wolowitz. He’s awkward and strange, yet likeable and charmingly enthusiastic about his passions.
It sucks that films like this always slip under the radar, at the behest of big Hollywood movies like Rogue One and Passengers. Kelly Fremon Craig has written a great screenplay and her directing debut is worthy of mighty praise. What she does best is exploit the Nadine’s personal moments and they’re all moments that we could all relate from a teenage years.