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The Edge of Seventeen (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 22, 2020

The Edge of Seventeen

The Edge of Seventeen


Starring Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, Hayden Szeto, Alexander Calvert, Eric Keenleyside, Nesta Cooper, Daniel Bacon, Lina Renna, Ava Grace Cooper, Christian Michael Cooper, Jena Skodje, Josh Simpson, Kavandeep Hayre, Meredith Monroe, Katie Stuart, Lyle Reginald, Chris Shields, Christian Lagasse, Kirsten Robek, Paul Herbert and Laine MacNeil.

Screenplay by Kelly Fremon Craig.

Directed by Kelly Fremon Craig.

Distributed by STX Entertainment.  104 minutes.  Rated R.

There is no social mine field more treacherous than the teen years, a period of social caste structures, heightened hormones and libido, hurt feelings, acne, uncertainty, and the search for self.  And mostly, a period where just about everyone, no matter how confident, feels like an outcast pretty much all of the time.

Coming of age stories are like catnip to aspiring directors, but rarely are they made with the quiet assurance, candid insight and empathy of The Edge of Seventeen.  Not only that, it is one of the funniest films of the year (at least in the appropriate sections).

It’s not easy growing up a girl in the modern world.  (As if it ever was!)

Hailee Steinfeld finds her best role yet as Nadine, a jaded and yet totally naive high school sophomore.  Nadine has always had trouble making friends, but she has one friend for life, her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson).  However, Nadine feels betrayed when her older brother (Blake Jenner), the popular football star, starts dating her best friend.

Nadine’s father died young (of a heart attack, with her in the car).  Her mother (Kyra Sedgwick) is well-meaning but totally overwhelmed by the responsibilities of being a working single mother, and she is also lonely and desperately looking for love.

In Nadine’s highly cynical way, she is absolutely certain that she has everything figured out and that she knows everything about everything and everyone, and she is almost inevitably wrong.  Yet, somehow that does not make Nadine insufferable, it makes her even more relatable: she’s not a bad kid, just a confused and scared one.

And she is not nearly as strong as she tries to appear.

The only person that she truly trusts is her history teacher (Woody Harrelson), a man who is just as jaded as she is.  He can meet her stream of consciousness wisecracks and raise her.  And yet, his life outside of school turns out to be much broader and happier than she ever imagined.

The older brother also is something of a revelation.  Nadine is certain he is a shallow, selfish jock, but he turns out to be much more complicated and conflicted than she ever imagined.

Finally, through a series of circumstances that mostly ring wonderfully true, Nadine is able to move forward in her life.  She may still screw things up, but she’s going to do it her way.

The Edge of Seventeen is the kind of sweet and small movie that sometimes slips through the cracks and never finds its audience.  Don’t let this happen.  If you have to go out of your way to see The Edge of Seventeen, do it.  You will not be disappointed.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2016 All rights reserved. Posted: November 18, 2016.

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