The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
The Edge of Seventeen is an entertaining comedy/drama that pays homage to classic films The Breakfast Club and As Good as It Gets.
In The Edge of Seventeen, Hailee Steinfeld stars as Nadine, a 17-year-old who views life as intolerable and insults everyone she comes across. Starting at the young age of seven, Nadine sees the world being inhabited by two kinds of people: the first group excels at life and is liked by everybody, while the second group hates their lives and the lives of the first group. One day when she is outside alone, seven-year old Nadine meets and befriends Krista. Once their friendship blossoms, Nadine finds solace in Krista, and relies on her throughout the years to confide in her about her self-loathing and depression.
After a life-changing incident, Nadine’s negative views of life escalate through the roof. Fast forward years later to present day and 17-year-old Nadine still hangs out with her one and only friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). The two hang out at lunch and sleep over at each other’s houses. However, things take a turn for the worse when Krista starts dating Nadine’s brother Darian (Blake Jenner). Worried that Krista will spend all her time with Darian and his friends, Nadine begins an emotional rollercoaster—a rollercoaster that involves her stalking a crush, and hanging out with awkward, but good-natured Erwin Kim.
Will Nadine be able to accept the fact that her best friend is dating her brother, and will she be able to eventually find happiness?
Written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, The Edge of Seventeen is an entertaining comedy/drama that pays homage to classic films The Breakfast Club and As Good as It Gets. James L. Brooks, who wrote and directed As Good as It Gets, serves as a producer on The Edge of Seventeen. Craig admires Brooks’ past films because similar elements shown in Brooks’ film appears in this movie. Like As Good as It Gets, The Edge of Seventeen follows a candid person who insults people throughout the film. Additionally, the candid protagonist is surrounded by people who put up with the protagonist’s antics. Even though Craig borrows elements from Brooks’ film, she makes an original, entertaining movie filled with realistic teenage characters. The characters curse and speak exactly how real-life teenagers speak. This element resembles an important element in The Breakfast Club. In John Hughes’ groundbreaking film, the teenage students used profanity throughout the film. By doing this, Hughes and Craig add verisimilitude to their films by crafting realistic teenage characters.
The strongest part about The Edge of Seventeen is the screenplay. Craig loads her script with interesting and dynamic characters who all feel unique in their own way. She also manages to give them enough depth so they won’t come across as caricatures. Even the blunt and mean-spirited Nadine isn’t just characterized as a one-dimensional A-hole, Craig carefully crafts Nadine as a person who insults random strangers in one scene, and tries (sometimes successfully) to comfort a distressed person in the next. Thanks to Craig’s great depiction and characterization of characters, viewers will find it easy to care about them from the start. On a negative note about the script, Craig structures her screenplay in a predictable fashion; as a result, some significant plot points can be seen from a mile away. With that said, the film still surprises viewers with touching and laugh-out loud moments.
Most of these laugh-out loud moments come from Nadine—played excellently by the talented Hailee Steinfeld. As Nadine, Steinfeld insults family members, students, and her equally funny teacher Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson); she spews out lines of sarcasm and satire to good effect; and she mocks her new friend Erwin about his demeanor and interests. Everything Nadine says is pure gold and hits the comedic mark every time. With Steinfeld in the role, she captures the funny, dark, sarcastic, and caring sides of Nadine. Therefore, Steinfeld proves that she was the perfect choice for the role and it shows whenever she rattles off funny lines of dialogue.
Woody Harrelson plays Mr. Bruner, Nadine’s teacher and confidant. Harrelson is great in the role, making the character likable to an extent. As Bruner, Harrelson makes quips and retorts to Nadine’s rude comments. When Bruner and Nadine are both onscreen, they provide funny humor as well as touching moments. That said, out of all the characters in the film, Bruner comes across as unrealistic. In life, a teacher like Bruner would get fired for the many things he says to his students. Even though Harrelson delivers a good performance as well as bring levity to the film, his character sticks out like a sore thumb among the realistic characters in The Edge of Seventeen.
Rounding out the supporting cast, actors Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Kyra Sedgwick, and Hayden Szeto all deliver solid performances in their roles—especially Hayden Szeto. Szeto, who plays Erwin in the film, provides the most nuanced performance in the movie. As Erwin, Szeto is awkward, funny, patient, and passionate. In scenes, the role calls for Szeto to stutter in one moment and then to speak eloquently in the next. As a result, Szeto is great every time he’s onscreen and manages to play well off equally-talented Steinfeld.
The Edge of Seventeen will entertain viewers with its shock humor, situational comedy, and engaging drama. Cinephiles and regular moviegoers alike should check this film out before it leaves theaters. With a talented young cast and a well-written screenplay, The Edge of Seventeen is a must-see film for everyone to enjoy.
Rating: 4 out of 5
- First image: IMDB
- Second image: Fangirlish
- Third image: Lainey Gossip
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