A year or so ago, I remember reading that Academy Award Nominee Hailee Steinfeld (from the remake of True Grit) was not going to focus much on acting anymore and more on singing. While I have not heard any of her songs, I would hate to see her leave acting, because once you witness her in The Edge of Seventeen, you know you are watching a sure professional at the top of her game.
Steinfeld plays Nadine, a High School Junior who has very little in life that makes her happy. She feels overshadowed by her older brother Darian (Blake Jenner), and does not get too well along with her single mom Mona (Kyra Sedgwick). Her one ray of hope is her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). They are peas in a pod, the type of friends who will hold back the other’s hair while they are throwing up in the toilet. This all changes when Krista hooks up with Darian.
The movie’s first time director, Kelly Fremon Craig, also wrote the screenplay. It is full of dialogue with wit and charm we all love to take out of a coming of age movie, including Nadine and her new friend Erwin (Hayden Szeto). Still, the best scenes are when Nadine has her conversations with her history teacher, Mr. Bruner (a sensational Woody Harrelson). Not many teachers will respond to a student’s over the top decision to commit suicide by reciting his own suicide note. Harrelson and Steinfeld are magical.
Parents, the movie is Rated R for good reason, but it does not mean High Schoolers should not see it (that is, the mature ones). There is a lot of swearing and sexual dialogue (mainly when Nadine is talking about her crush Nick, played by Alexander Calvert). There is also a scene in a car that does go on for a bit, but nothing is shown. Basically, I would say Juniors and up are fine.
The movie did take some turns I did not entirely appreciate (it reminded me a little of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a movie I was not a fan of). Still, in the coming of age movie genre, The Edge of Seventeen does place a staple along others. The late John Hughes would tip his hat to this film.
Overall: Four Stars ****