The authentic teen dramedy is a lost art in Hollywood these days. The genre can be a hard sell compared to raunchy comedies like the American Pie franchise or sad teen romances such as The Fault in Our Stars. Most realistic teen films have to wait until home rentals to gain cult status and make their money back. John Hughes seemed to have his finger on the pulse of the American teenager during the 1980s, but those days are long gone and we’re lucky to one great coming of age story like Juno every half decade. Audiences usually have to settle for dumb downed tales of a PG-13 high school life, but that is not the case in the R-Rated Edge of Seventeen staring Hailee Steinfeld. This new film directed by Kelly Fremon Craig is a fresh, funny and timeless take about the awkwardness of High School and trying to accept yourself for who you are even if you hate what you see in the mirror.
At the center of Edge of Seventeen is Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), a socially awkward High School junior who lives in the shadow of her all-star older brother Darian (Blake Jenner) at school and in life. Everyone falls for Darian’s charm including Nadine’s only friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) who begins dating her brother. This leads to the already anxiety riddled Nadine to go off the deep end in hilarious and relatable fashion as she comes to grips with her brother and best friend becoming a serious item. The plot in Edge of Seventeen may seem like a watered down melodramatic teen flick, but it’s so much more giving a glimpse into everyday life of high schoolers that feels so real no matter how old your are.
Hailee Steinfeld proves in Edge of Seventeen her Oscar nomination for True Grit was no fluke and creates one of the most believable high schoolers put to screen in the form of Nadine. She’s quirky, annoying, cute, a hot mess, crazy, vulnerable and often sad due to a world she doesn’t think she fits into. Steinfeld’s performance connects, because many girls will see themselves in Nadine and guys will see the crazy girl from their high school years they had a weird attraction to. Steinfeld also gets to share some very funny scenes with Woody Harrelson who plays Nadine’s teacher that she treats as her therapist. Harrelson’s dry humor brings some welcome laughs to Edge of Seventeen as he bluntly spars with his student over her hyper analyzing every moment in the day. The chemistry between the two make for some of the best dialogue in the film that will have you chuckling over the subtle daily verbal altercations in the classroom.
To put it quite simply, Hailee Steinfeld is amazing in Edge of Seventeen and should be seriously considered for the lead actress race during award season. The young Oscar nominee brings to life a real flesh and blood teenager with all emotional scars due to a lack of proper guidance. She’s young, dumb and thinks she knows it all and that’s what makes watching her journey through this mess she calls life such an entertaining experience. Edge of Seventeen may not find the audience it desires at the box office or with Oscar voters right now, but it will surely gain cult status as one of the best teen movies to come out over the past decade.
Overall, I give Edge of Seventeen 3.25 out of 4 stars.
Read all T.M.’s reviews here–>Entertainment Now with T.M. Powell