- Young Critic
The Edge of Seventeen
Great high school movies have been hard to come by, and people have longed for the John Hughes films that so properly embodied the feeling of puberty. But the problem hasn’t been so much with the quality of today’s high school films as much as it’s marketing and tone. High school films today are meant to be watched by high schoolers and so you get a whole lot of moral lessons to how one should act in this time of your life; Hughes’ films and others of its time were geared more towards adults and hitting them with nostalgia and how high school actually was for them. Out of the blue we get The Edge of Seventeen this 2016, which rediscovers this old formula to its great benefit.
The Edge of Seventeen is about a girl in her junior year in high school named Nadine (Hailee Seinfeld) and how everything in her life seems to suck. Her father died at a young age, she’s being constantly overshadowed by her perfect brother Darien (Blake Jenner) and she has only one friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson); oh and there’s also Erwin (Hayden Szeto), whose a sweet kid from class who has a big crush on Nadine, but she doesn’t seem to notice.
What I really admired about this film is that it didn’t hold back at all, it was very versatile in its tone, swerving from comedic to dramatic various times, but it added to the enjoyment. First time director Kelly Fremon Craig (who also wrote the script) is able to give her characters the right amount of sarcasm and wit to keep most of the mood up even during specifically dark moments. The opening acts of the film are certainly the most enjoyable, mostly because it’s a string of anecdotes that many could relate to in the audience, but also because we’re caught completely unaware with the film’s original lens. Towards the last acts, however, the film does become a bit more generic and very predictable, but one can’t blame it, an extremely dark ending would have been devastating.
The film was also able to rack in some great up-and-coming talent as well as a veteran for the cast (Woody Harrelson played one of Nadine’s teachers). Hailee Seinfeld is increasingly proving that she has tremendous potential (she was already nominated for an Oscar with her first film True Grit), and The Edge of Seventeen only confirms her ascent to the A-list. Meanwhile the lesser known talents were also impressive, you can now write me down as a fan of Blake Jenner as he has impressed me with both this film and Linklater’s college film that also came out this year: Everybody Wants Some!!And Hayden Szeto is a real revelation, as a rare Asian-American love interest whose race is mostly ignored in the film; kudos to the film for promoting these characters from simple side-kicks.
So The Edge of Seventeen is truly a film you feel glad to have watched afterward. The R rating makes sure the story is kept honest as well as free from any restrictions. The young cast is impressive, and the nostalgia is sure to hit home for most of the audience members.