To be perfectly honest, out of all the films that came out this week, this was the one I was most excited for. Even more so than FANTASTIC BEASTS (2016). This movie about a teenage girl whose life is a dramatic trainwreck looked hysterical. Throughout that trailer, I was smiling and laughing.
But as per usual, the ultimate gravitational pull is from the star power. Let’s dive into that, shall we? Ever since she cowgirl’d up and co-starred in TRUE GRIT (2010), Hailee Steinfeld has been climbing that alphabet list, starting at A. She may not be a name you see as often as Jennifer Lawrence or anything, but bar none has become one of the finest young actresses in the last half decade. On top of being a whirlwind of talent, she’s a damn fine singer, evidenced by her prominent role in PITCH PERFECT 2 (2015). She can do it all. Drama, action, comedy, music, it’ll be a real treat to see what else she’ll bring in the future. But for now, she’s in her first starring role, and that’s a great accomplishment in itself. Next up, a cinematic gift from whatever gods love us so much, Woody Harrelson. Let’s face it, his work’s been pretty recognizable from older generations than me, with his roles in NATURAL BORN KILLERS, and TV show CHEERS, but if anyone is anything like me, Harrelson didn’t strike golden popularity until the mega hit that was ZOMBIELAND (2009). Ever since that delicious slice of cinematic zombie heaven, he’s been one of the most popular actors I’ve seen. Oh, and starring in that little indie franchise that no one’s heard of: THE HUNGER GAMES (2012). I’m sure that helped his image some. He’s awesome, he’s funny, he’s intimidating, he’s warm and welcoming, his name on any cast list is like the movie’s telling you, “You can trust us. This will be good. Woody’s here to take care of you.” And indeed he always does. Other talents in this include Haley Lu Richardson (THE BRONZE ), Blake Jenner (EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! , and TV shows SUPERGIRL and GLEE), and Kyra Sedgwick (MAN ON A LEDGE , GAMER , and TV show THE CLOSER).
Now for behind the scenes. Writing and directing is Kelly Fremon Craig. She’s a relative newcomer. While making her directing debut here, she’s previously written POST GRAD (2009). Composing the music is Atli Örvarsson, who has previously worked on THE PERFECT GUY (2015), THE IMMORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES (2013), and THE EAGLE (2011), as well as seemingly any TV show with “Chicago” in the name, CHICAGO FIRE, P.D., and MED and the upcoming show CHICAGO JUSTICE. Finally, the cinematographer is Doug Emmett, known for PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (2012), and BACHELORETTE (2012).
Overall, super excited for this. Love ninety percent of the cast and really want this to be amazing. This is my honest opinion of THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN.
Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) is a seventeen year old girl who isn’t having the best week of her life. She isn’t the most popular girl in school, though her brother Darian (Blake Jenner) is one of the most popular guys. She doesn’t get along with her mother Mona (Kyra Sedgwick) very well. This used to be less of a chaotic issue when she was younger due to her father Tom (Eric Keenleyside) being a reliable foil for the two ladies’ bickering. But he died of a heart condition some years ago and things have been uneasy ever since. The only thing that’s ever been consistently good in her life is her best friend since they were toddlers, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). Unfortunately, even that seems to take a sharp nose-dive when Nadine accidentally discovers that she slept with Darian, straining their relationship. Struggling with her sudden lack of friends and continued hesitant support from her family, all the while navigating through the natural awkwardness of her teenage years… it’s going to be a rough time.
Oh thank God, this was everything I’d hoped it’d be and then some. Yes, folks, I’m with everyone else. This movie is hilarious and fantastic. Dear modern comedies, take some fucking notes because this is how a comedy is supposed to be.
Pun intended, Steinfeld is pitch perfect. She is ridiculously adorable and funny as Nadine and brings her unique every-girl charm to the story. I think what I appreciate more than anything is that Nadine is written to be an average girl. She’s not blatantly and obnoxiously attractive, she’s cute and has her own unique look to her and never ashamed of it. She clearly doesn’t have all the answers in life, despite sometimes thinking like she does. Like any teenager, she thinks she’s got everything figured out, but as soon as she declares it, cold reality has a tendency to fire back and shakes her perception of what she thinks she knows. And like most teenagers, sometimes she takes it in and learns from it, or even completely ignores it and stubbornly thinks that everything is still wrong. Nadine can be selfish, short-fused, over dramatic, sometimes insensitive, but at the end of the day, she’s not a bad person. She’s funny, she’s loving, she has passion. She’s a growing kid. She’s on the cusp of adulthood and she’s not transitioning well, which is like most teenagers. She’s different, yet familiar, making her an incredible and fun protagonist to follow. Steinfeld owns this movie and she’s beyond wonderful.
But let’s not forget Harrelson. You know, sarcastic and shit-talking school teachers never get old, but for some reason, he makes his own special mark on this kind of character. Mr. Bruner has this delicious cynicism about him. I swear, I will hear this line in my final seconds of life, “Wake up, Nadine. The brain transplant was a success. It made you likable and agreeable.” Oh my god, I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. Every scene he’s in is a true testament to Harrelson’s abilities as an actor and every scene he’s in is comedy gold. But more than just the comedy, there’s even some dramatic scenes that work unbelievably well. He’s an ass, but only because Nadine opens the door for Bruner’s sense of humor. When she’s in legit duress, he drops his snide comments and actually tries to console her. He can be gentle, he can be supportive, but above all else, he’s honest and sincere. Once again, Harrelson knocks it so far out of the park, it’s a brand spanking new comet.
The rest of the supporting cast does very well too. Jenner had some pretty powerful moments, mainly toward the end. I’m also hoping that this film means Richardson’s turn in THE BRONZE (2016) is buried and gone because, despite her limited role, does have a tenderness all her own. And I’m sure filming had to have been confusing as hell since she and Steinfeld have the same name. Sedgwick did great as a struggling single mother who doesn’t know how to connect with her stubborn daughter and relies on her more agreeable son to fix her problems. And last, but not least, Hayden Szeto as Irwin – or… is it Erwin? there was inconsistency in the spelling of this character’s name – was definitely adorkable and charming as the boy who had a crush on her. I loved their chemistry.
I honestly have zero problems with this movie. It’s this decade’s JUNO (2007), if you ask me, maybe even better. I doubt the masses will agree with me on that one, but while the character Juno is definitely endearing and Ellen Page delivers a wonderfully entertaining and memorable performance, it is a bit over-the-top and doesn’t quite feel as timeless as this film. I never really got the sense that Juno was a regular girl. She was a character. A fun and lovable character, but not nearly as three-dimensional and realistic as Nadine. I love this movie and I can’t recommend it enough. I hope to whatever higher power is out there grants me time to see this movie again because… by graces, it’s that phenomenal.
My honest rating for THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN: 5/5
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