The Edge of Seventeen is a brutally honest tale of teenage angst and the laughter that comes along with it. Starring Hailee Steinfeld, never in recent years have we seen such an accurate portrayal of the struggles of teenage life without the glamour of Hollywood to add a rose-tinted hue. Like a crossover between Sixteen Candles and Perks of Being a Wallflower, Edge of Seventeen is an incredibly funny take on the all-encompassing high school years, warts and all.
The film follows Nadine (Steinfeld), a 17-year-old junior in high school whose best, and possibly only friend, Krista has just started dating her older, good looking brother, Darian. We watch Nadine come to terms with this new ordeal, attempting to form relationships with boys, and the effect she has on her widowed mother.
Steinfeld is mesmerising as Nadine. It is easy to forget that Steinfeld has previously been nominated for an Academy Award for her role in True Grit at the mere age of 14, and at such a young age even still, it’s not difficult to see why. Despite this being a coming of age movie aimed at a teenage audience (a genre which doesn’t usually garner much critical acclaim when it comes to acting talent), her ability is undeniable. She is fresh and exciting and really captures what it is like to be a regular teenager, and with great comedic delivery.
One thing that audiences may struggle with when it comes to the character of Nadine is her relatability. Some may argue that she is not relatable because she is selfish, aggressive and she believes everything revolves around her. In her world, no one else could possibly have any problems greater than her own. However, we think this is what makes the film so worthwhile. Long has it been since we have seen such a normal person on screen. In fact, we feel she is more relatable because of her flaws. If you look back at yourself when you were 17 you would probably cringe at the things you used to do and say, and of course, small problems seemed astronomical. Nadine’s story is not sugar-coated in any way. The writers have really grasped the exaggeration that teenagers latch on to to make their lives seem so gruelling to the people around them, but also the awkwardness we all go through when we are finding our feet amongst our peers.
A lot of these movies will go one of two ways: they will either trivialise teenage life and make it so shallow and meaningless, but gloss it over so it presents well; or they go too far down angst street that the film has become a sob-fest, which we admittedly love, but find it hard to relate to because there are few people out there who have so much struggle so young. The Edge of Seventeen balances between the two so perfectly that we can see a little bit of Nadine in all of us. Teenagers can be terrible human beings, but in the best way possible, and that is why these are coming of age films. They portray people learning how to better themselves.
Each situation in this movie is believable and so are the relationships, especially Nadine’s relationship with her teacher Mr Bruner, played by Woody Harrelson. He has become Nadine’s outlet and is the only one who can deal with her. He is the shining light in her life and opens the doors to her seeing life in a different way, and without her realising it. As much as we know teachers like this are probably few and far between in reality, it creates an endearing dynamic to the film that, for one, depicts school positively, rather than a complete hell-hole.
The Edge of Seventeen has become an instant cult hit in the teen movie/high school genre and we believe will remain as one of the greats amongst the string of John Hughes movies we all so dearly love. Unfortunately, it didn’t receive as big a release as we would have hoped, but that is not to say that it wasn’t successful. Adding a further prestigious nomination to her name, Steinfeld received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance, and we have high hopes for her future career.
We give The Edge of Seventeen 4 stars for promising so much truth and delivering it to us with panache, and with a side of nostalgia for taking us back to our own teenage years, even if we would rather forget them sometimes. This film is laugh out loud funny, honest and unapologetic, without the gimmick which many other films of this genre may contain.
The Edge of Seventeen is available to buy on DVD here, or take a look at the trailer below.