Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Blake Jenner
Director: Kelly Fremon Craig
Running Time: 104 mins
The Edge Of Seventeen is an American film about a 17 year-old girl struggling with teenage life when everything gets even worse. Her best friends begins dating her older brother, her mother continues to ignore her, and she feels completely different from everyone else in her age group. Eventually, all her frustrations boil over.
‘Teen angst’ is a phrase I like to throw around a lot, usually when talking about how bad the latest attempt at Clueless is. When it comes to The Edge Of Seventeen, however, I’m delighted to say that we’ve got one of the best big screen movies about teen angst. Interesting, fast-paced, well-acted and featuring an impressively powerful story, it’s an excellent film that keeps you fully engrossed in a story that you’ve seen before from start to finish.
Let’s start off with what makes this film work so much better than the countless other teen comedy-dramas. Normally, this sort of movie is incredibly boring and often irritating to watch, because it presents teens’ problems as very superficial and dull challenges. The Edge Of Seventeen, on the other hand, takes those problems and looks at them in as serious a light as possible, putting more focus on our main character’s own mental wellbeing through a difficult time rather than just how many friends she loses.
As a result, this film is an incredibly personal and intimate story. Throughout, I felt a strong connection with Nadine, our main character, and was able to really sympathise with many of her struggles, meaning that every time she felt like her world was being turned completely upside down, it had a far more powerful impact for me than I expected.
What’s even more impressive is that Nadine isn’t a particularly likable character. As brash, impulsive and often shallow as your average boring teenager from the outside, she’s not the sort of person that I’d normally want to care about. However, the reason that it’s so easy to do exactly the opposite is two-fold. First, the deep and intimate storytelling makes for a far more riveting watch that really helps you to fully understand her feelings.
Also, Hailee Steinfeld’s performance is absolutely fantastic. Managing to cover everything about her character with ease, whether it be her hot-headed and frustrated nature or her deeper and calmer emotions, Steinfeld is brilliant to watch from start to finish. She doesn’t make Nadine a fully likable person, but what she does do is show you that her actions aren’t entirely borne out of adolescent arrogance, and give you a powerful insight into the psyche of this girl, which I thought was fantastic to see.
Another big positive about the film is that it’s really entertaining. Whilst the story is very focused on the darker and more serious (but more interesting) side of teen angst, The Edge Of Seventeen isn’t a complete downer. For one, there are short bursts of absolutely brilliant humour, ranging from Nadine’s cringeworthy actions to the more deadpan comedy from the likes of Woody Harrelson’s character, who provides some fantastic comic relief, whilst also adding to the story of Nadine’s frustrations.
On the whole, this is a very good film, and easily one of the best in the teen angst genre. If there is one issue I have with it, it’s that the story is very predictable. That may just be because it’s so realistic and relatable, but I was a little disappointed by the fact that each of the story’s main beats could be seen a mile off. It didn’t make the film any less interesting to watch, and the true core of the story is the emotional centre rather than the plot, but I still felt like there could have been a few surprises here and there that would have made for an even more riveting story.
Overall, I though The Edge Of Seventeen was fantastic. A properly engrossing and even emotionally powerful watch that shows that boring teen angst can actually be riveting, it’s a very memorable film full of great performances, humour, directing and writing, and that’s why I’m giving it an 8.4.