“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”.
When was the last good teen movie? The last really good one that first springs to mind is ‘Easy A’ (2010) which fully cemented Emma Stone as one of the funniest actress of her generation. Six years on and the same could easily be said of Hailee Steinfeld after this movie, providing with a dazzling comedic yet dramatic performance. This is her film and she does so well as 17-year-old Nadine. Life hasn’t exactly hadn’t her the best cards in life which, combined with the general doom that looms over the turmoil that is adolescence, results in Nadine finding life pretty unbearable. At least she has her best friend Krista (Richardson) – except she’s just started dating Nadine’s brother Darian (Jenner)…
We follow Nadine as she undergoes the various traumas that occur as a result, troubles that – aside from perhaps the context they occur within – are universal. The agonising over messaging the guy you fancy, struggling with changing friendships, clashing with family – they’re things we’ve most likely been through or seen done before but never have they been done this well. Steinfeld as Nadine is so genuine & likeable – even when we know she is doing the wrong thing. She’s portrayed with such warmth and even her irritating character traits end up being endearing. With great nuance provides most of the laughs as we watch Nadine flounder as she interacts with practically everyone she knows.
Two other characters also provide some of the film’s greatest moments. Hayden Szeto gives the world’s best performance of boy-in-friend-zone: artfully portraying the level of awkward admiration that only a teenage boy can exclude. Woody Harrelson as their history teacher Mr Bruner has some of the film’s greatest gags, providing the blend of insults and tough love that only a teacher you truly admire can provide. Their chemistry when they are on-screen together provides some of the strongest moments of the film; as Mr Bruner tries to help Nadine break-through the wall she has been putting up between herself and the rest of the world. This is only achieved through some wicked (in both senses of the word!) filter-less dialogue which is pretty believable, something I say as an East London secondary school teacher..
‘Edge of Seventeen’ is a showcase of universal experience. For those of us who have gone through adolescence it provides nostalgia whilst reminding us how tough it once was. For those going through it it provides a much needed reminder that everything will be alright in the end and if it’s not alright then it’s not the end.
Edge of Seventeen is released in UK cinemas on December 2nd.
Dir: Kelly Fremon Craig
Year: 2016 Run time:104 minutes
Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Kyra Sedgwick, Woody Harrelson, Hayden Szeto.