At the tail end of 2016 we were treated to a lot of great films. None of those films were as surprisingly good as The Edge of Seventeen. I didn’t expect too much from the movie, but I went to watch it thinking I could get some laughs out of it. What I landed up getting was a very relatable film that plays pretty true to common scenarios of high school students. This movie is teen angst personified in the best way possible.
What makes this movie tick is our main character, Nadine. She’s honestly my favorite character to come out of 2016. What I really liked about her was that she was nowhere near perfect. She’s an awkward, self-centered, drama queen trying to survive her teenage years despite the many messed up things that happen to her. Unlike a lot of other movies, we get a backstory that gives us a good idea of how she became like this. Her father was the only person she felt connected to when she was young, and when he died she was stuck with a mom who she felt never cared for her the way she cares for her brother. It explains how she’s socially awkward and why she feels so isolated. Not to mention she’s absolutely hilarious. Her reaction to certain events in the movie are so over the top that I couldn’t help but burst out laughing.
As far as supporting characters go, Nadine’s teacher Mr. Bruner is the clear standout. His sarcasm reaches levels that make me proud. He’s constantly brushing off Nadine’s over top the top outbursts and says things to her that would get majority of teachers fired. He’s also the one teacher that Nadine feels comfortable enough to talk to. Most people in high school (including myself) had teachers they gravitated to so I found his role in the film extremely relatable.
Being able to relate to these characters is the film’s biggest strength. As the movie progresses we are thrown a lot of common high school scenarios that play out in ways that are believable. These scenarios don’t always play out in the best way for these characters either. It makes me think that these teenagers could easily be anyone from any school. I appreciated that.
The screenplay really helped make these characters come to life. They all spoke the way I know teenagers speak. They curse and talk about sex quite often, and you see it in this film. The dialogue is in your face and an absolute joy to listen to. This approach made the film stand out from what I feel other movies do with characters around this age. There was no attempt to make any of the characters politically correct.
The acting all around is pretty sweet. Hailee Steinfeld as Nadine is award worthy for sure. Everything about her performance is amazing. The delivery of a lot of her lines could have come across as corny if it was delivered by any other actress. Woody Harrelson as Mr. Bruner is also fantastic. Woody has shown time and time again that he can elevate the cast of just about any movie he steps into. Whether it’s comedy or drama, it really doesn’t matter. He steals every scene he’s in. Haley Lu Richardson plays Krista, Nadine’s best friend. She has a minor part in the movie, but she’s pretty good when she’s there. Blake Jenner plays Darian, Nadine’s Brother. He’s great in his role as the “perfect” sibling. He also has a great scene near the end with Nadine that adds perspective to his character. It was one of the best scenes in the movie.
The only real issue I can see with The Edge of Seventeen is that it’s predictable. Once all of the characters in the film are introduced, you can make a pretty good guess of where they’ll land up at the end of the film. I honestly don’t think that’s much of a problem here because the execution of these elements puts it above other coming of age movie that follow similar plotlines.
Overall, I love this movie. It was something that came out of nowhere and made me want to rewatch it as soon as the credits started rolling. Nadine is a hilariously entertaining character that was portrayed beautifully. Mr. Bruner was added to my list of favorite movie teachers immediately. The situations are universally relatable. The screenplay is full of personality and has a better understanding of how teenagers actually talk and act. It was in my top 5 movies of 2016 for a reason.
The Edge of Seventeen gets a 97/100 and is awarded the title of…