By Ellise Shafer, ’17
“The Edge of Seventeen”
Directed and written by Kelly Fremon Craig
“Look, I don’t want to take up a bunch of your time, but I’m going to kill myself.”
These are the first words spoken in “The Edge of Seventeen”, the first movie worked on by director and writer Kelly Fremon Craig since 2009’s “Post Grad”. A categorized dramedy, the film follows the life of Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), an ostracized high school junior trying to navigate between her home life and social agenda. Early on in the movie, the viewers learn of her rocky relationship with her mother (Kyra Sedgwick) from which she finds salvation by spending time with her dad (Eric Keenleyside), often getting cheeseburgers. However, when he dies, she is left feeling more alone than ever. But, at least she has her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson)— well, until she hooks up with Nadine’s popular and perfect older brother, Darian (Blake Jenner).
A not-so-secret admirer (Hayden Szeto), unreachable crush (Alexander Calvert), and lovably sarcastic teacher (Woody Harrelson) give “The Edge of Seventeen” the perfect formula for a classic coming of age film— which it almost is.
The film carries a steady mix of comedy and drama throughout, with overall great performances by the cast. Steinfeld pulls off an angsty teen genuinely and without holding back, and former Glee cast member Jenner truly proves that he has acting chops. Also a standout is Harrelson, whose character was so authentic that it reminded me of a few of my own teachers. However, I couldn’t help but notice that Szeto looks to be way too old to be playing a high schooler— and my intuition was right, as he is 31. This made me wonder why exactly they casted him, and if they could have maybe picked someone a little younger to give the film more legitimacy. I was also fairly disappointed by the fact that there was no reference in the film to Stevie Nicks’ song “The Edge of Seventeen”, from which I assume the title was taken.
As for the plot, it is overwhelmingly predictable, but still manages to have a lot of heart. The sometimes cringe-worthy situations that Nadine finds herself in are extremely relatable to someone who is 17 (like myself), but there is still a funny lightheartedness to them. I even found myself nodding my head in agreement to some of the insightful things said by Nadine, especially this quote: “I think some strange part of me likes to think I’m the only one with problems, as if that makes me special.” However, I was not surprised in the least by what seemed to be the film’s plot twists, and found that this caused it to fall flat on the originality scale.
In addition, “The Edge of Seventeen” is rated R for language, but after seeing the movie I don’t understand why Craig didn’t just take some of it out so that it could be viewed by those 13 and over. Personally, I feel as if the plot would still resonate with me as an early teenager, and it’s a shame that it’s closed off to them for that reason.
So, if you’re in the mood for a predictable and overall feel-good film that still tugs on the heartstrings a bit, I would definitely recommend “The Edge of Seventeen.” However, its predictable plot and average comedic value make it only a one time see in my opinion.