“The Edge of Seventeen” is a ferociously funny and sentimental coming of age story. High school junior Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) is an offbeat, crass and socially awkward teen with a liking for old songs and nights in. She’s also a social outcast, growing up in the shadow of her perfect brother Darian, (Blake Jenner) who everyone loves and adores and can do no wrong in the eyes of their mother.
Mona (Kyra Sedgwick), Darian and Nadine’s mother, has a very shoddy relationship with Nadine. In a flashback as a child, Mona fights with Nadine to get out of the car to go to school, and it is only the relief of her father that calms the situation down. During the first minutes in the film, we see Nadine’s life lines, her father (Eric Keenleyside) and her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), who also enables Nadine to avoid social interactions.
Steinfeld brilliantly plays Nadine with a distinct realness that is often lacking in many high school and coming-of-age films. In the opening scene, a distraught and flustered Nadine combs through the crowds of teenagers to get to her history teacher Mr. Bruner (a witty Woody Harrelson) during lunch. She announces her intention to kill herself with a rant that is hilarious, self-pitying and distressing. During her rant, she manages to throw jabs at Mr. Bruner for his monotonous teaching style and his lack of intimate relationships. He responds with snide remarks of his own, revealing the nature of their relationships goes farther than what we can see.
I can only sing praises to the cast for a wonderful coming-of-age film. While Nadine is the focus, the supporting characters progress through a journey just like her own. Darian learns to become less selfish and more altruistic once he truly sees the way his mother favors him over his sister.
There is no situation that writer and director Kelly Fremon Craig shies away from. Craig wonderfully portrays the growth of not just Nadine, but all of us who have passed through that awkward transition to adulthood. Although many of us have not sent risque Facebook messages to our crushes or left our parent stranded at work, we’ve all felt the same as Nadine.
Photo Credit: STX FILMS