“When I get mad, I get really quiet and really still, and I say to myself, ‘Everyone in the world is as miserable as you are; they’re just better at pretending.’”
This may sound like horrible advice for a mother to give to her teenage daughter, but in “The Edge of Seventeen,” it comes across as well meaning and endearing. Starring Hailee Steinfeld, this insightful teenage dramedy hits you right in the feels. `
Steinfeld plays seventeen-year-old Nadine, a high schooler with an old soul who struggles to connect with her peers and navigate the messy waters of young adulthood. Her life gets even messier when she finds her best and only friend in bed with her older brother, and much of the film deals with the outcome of this newly formed “thruple.”
Given the specificity of Nadine’s predicament, it wouldn’t appear to be a relatable film on the surface, but the characterization is very human, making “The Edge of Seventeen” applicable to almost anyone who has had first-hand experience with raging hormones.
It’s certainly an authentic movie, relying more on brutal honesty than hilarious one-liners to portray the difficulties of managing love, death, friendship and self-worth. In fact, the entire plot plays out in a realistic manner, lending itself to some slower moments during the film, but all in the name of accuracy.
That’s why the happy ending seemed particularly unnatural. After dedicating the majority of the film focusing on the nuances of day-to-day life, quickly wrapping it up with a nice bow on top seemed a little forced.
However, the culmination of the film didn’t completely tarnish the storyline or its performances. Steinfeld shines, and her fellow actors pull their weight, as well.
Hayden Szeto’s breakout role is one in particular that stands out. His character Erwin, a classmate dying for a bit of Nadine’s attention, is clumsily adorable. It’s difficult to do “awkward,” but Szeto manages to nail it in a way that doesn’t leave the audience feeling uncomfortable.
And then there’s Woody Harrelson, who does a fine job of living up to his title as America’s favorite a-hole in his role as Nadine’s history teacher. Their dialogue lightens the story when it needs it most, providing comic relief to balance out some of the darker scenes.
“The Edge of Seventeen” comes with plenty of tearjerker moments, too. It feels absurd to be looking back at my high school self in introspection, but it’s hard not to laugh at some of Nadine’s overdramatic and childish antics. I may only be 20, but the movie paves the way for people of all ages to have a humbling realization of their own growth.
It’s difficult to say if it will become a cult classic sitting amongst the ranks of “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club,” but it certainly is a prime modern day coming-of-age story for the books.