Edge of Seventeen Review: A Competent, If Unoriginal, High School Flick

Photo Credit:http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/movies/2016/11/the_edge_of_seventeen_starring_hailee_steinfeld_reviewed.html

Good high school/coming of age comedies are a dime a dozen. Great ones are much harder to find. Edge of Seventeen aspires to be the latter, inserting a few too many dour details and flashbacks that aim to turn a strong script into something more. In that quest, the film comes up short, so it falls into the former category. And that’s fine. Edge of Seventeen is perfectly enjoyable, if a bit too studio manufactured.

We meet Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) as she’s storming into a classroom while one of her teachers (Woody Harrelson) is having lunch. She manically tells him she’s going to kill herself, but not in a legitimately worrying manner, just one of a teenager who can’t see past the single moment she’s living in. From there, we go back and see the string of events, some depressing, some hilarious, that bring her to this point. The film benefits from its R rating, allowing a 17-year-old to speak how actual 17-year-olds speak is pivotal to the film’s sense of realism and how it builds true-to-life characters. Steinfeld is wonderful as Nadine, taking her through the wealth of emotions that always hit the mark, comedically or otherwise. Opposite of her is Blake Jenner as her seemingly perfect brother, who their mother (Kyra Sedgwick) appears to prefer. The family dynamic is rich with comedic drama, even if it isn’t the most original.

At it’s best, Edge of Seventeen hones in on the precise moment where you realize that the people around you aren’t just there for your pleasure. Nadine is a believably and sometimes justifiably selfish character, so the film’s arc takes her on a journey of self-realization. The film’s mass-appeal friendly tone sometimes gets in the way of the film’s relatability, turning small, intimate moments into big ones, but watching Nadine learn this lesson as she teeters on the edge of adulthood is lovely to watch. Other coming of age films have had more poignant success, but Edge of Seventeen still succeeds thanks to its terrific lead and smart script. This being a directorial debut from Kelly Fremon Craig, who also wrote the film, points to better things to come from this fresh artist. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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