Review: The Edge of Seventeen

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Haliee Steinfeld shines in this fantastic film about the troubles of being a teenager.

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Haliee Steinfeld stars in this incredible coming of age comedy-drama about a socially awkward seventeen year old whose world is turned upside down when her best friend begins to date her brother. As a result, Nadine is forced to circumnavigate through the various horrors of high school on her own, whilst also dealing with her brother’s vast popularity and her mother’s mollycoddling. I think one of the reasons why I enjoyed this film so much is because the characters are basically an exaggerated reflection of what I was like at that age. However, there is still plenty to love about this film no matter how much you can relate to it.

Steinfeld is absolutely incredible as Nadine Franklin. Nadine is headstrong, eccentric, but also insecure, and whilst being extremely funny, she’s also incredibly easy to empathise with as she attempts to find her place in the world.  Having starred in a number of poorly received films since her Oscar nominated role in 2010’s True Grit, it’s great to see Steinfeld back on top form in a role that simply oozes charisma and charm. This is very much Steinfeld’s film, and she carries it with absolute ease, making this awkward, and occasionally selfish character extremely likeable, even when she’s in the wrong. Steinfeld gives another award worthy performance in The Edge of Seventeen, and reaffirms my belief that she is one of the best actors working today, especially considering she’s only just turned twenty.

However, Steinfeld’s performance is not the only thing that makes this film, with much of the supporting cast giving similarly amazing performances. Kyra Sedgwick is extremely believable as Nadine’s loving yet troubled mother, and Woody Harrelson is, likewise, on top form as Nadine’s history teacher/ unwitting councillor, whose deadpan nature is absolutely hilarious when juxtaposed with Nadine’s freneticism.  Hayden Szeto brilliantly portrays Nadine’s awkward classmate, who continuously bumbles his attempts to win Nadine’s affection, making him the butt of some of the film’s funniest jokes. This is Szeto’s first film, but if he continues to give performances as good as this, I’m sure we’ll see him make a much bigger name for himself in the near future!

Unlike a lot of characters in coming of age movies, Nadine is not just a collection of stereotypes, but an honest reflection of what it’s like to stumble through High School with no real idea of what you’re doing. It’s not just Steinfeld’s performance that contributes to this characterisation either, but also Kelly Fremon Craig’s incredibly witty script. Through her direction and screenplay, Craig conveys the terrors and delights of high school so effectively, that it’ll make you feel nostalgic, even if, like me, you only graduated a couple of years ago. What makes the film so superb in particular, is just how honest it is; whilst we are led to laugh at the troubles and misgivings of the characters, we are likewise led to sympathise with them during their hardships. It’s difficult stop yourself from reflecting back on your own life, as you watch Nadine and her friends make the mistakes typical of high school students, and indeed, it’s easy to forget that what you are watching on screen is just a film.

The Edge of Seventeen is one of the funniest, most authentic, and best films of the year, more accurately representing what its like to be a teenager in the twenty-first century than any other film I’ve seen. One of the surprise gems of this year, you should try and catch it as soon as possible!

The Edge of Seventeen (2016), directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, is distributed in the UK by Entertainment One. Certificate 15.

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