The pangs and abundant mortifications of teenagehood are distilled into The Edge of Seventeen. Hailee Steinfeld, carrying the movie, stars as Nadine, a socially awkward high school junior with no particular talent. Her brother, meanwhile, is perfect. Her mother, on the other hand, is a mess. She’s been a mess since her husband died, two years prior to the start of the story. The plot turns when Nadine’s best friend starts going with her brother, driving a wedge in the friendship, and creating a civil war at home. Now, on the friend front, Nadine’s got her social studies teacher (Woody Harrelson), who doesn’t particularly like her. On the romance front, there’s the safe-awkward boy who likes her, and the edgy-cool boy whom she likes. The drama of these relationships fuels most of the movie. Which is what makes The Edge of Seventeen fresh: it’s an R-rated movie about relationships, rather than a high concept PG-13 rated movie about a quest. Of course, the movie is far from perfect. The filmmaking is bland, many of the characters are undeveloped, and the last half of the third act is unrealistic and repulsive. Alas, it’s a studio film. Still, it’s nice to see, as a protagonist, someone as blinkered and selfish as Steinfeld’s Nadine. Nice.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White