The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

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Stop The World – I Want To Get Off, the 1963 Tony-nominated musical by Leslie Bricusse and the late, great Anthony Newley, would be an apt title for the nobody-loves-or-understands-me memoirs of seventeen-year-old outsider Nadine Franklin (Hailee Steinfeld). Her beloved father Tom (Eric Keenleyside), whose advice to tackling bullies was to “fart into their backpacks”, died at the wheel of his car while she sat in the passenger seat. Her mother, the appropriately named Mona (Kyra Sedgwick), she hates with a passion and the feeling is reciprocated. Her brother Darian (Blake Jenner) is god’s gift to women, in particular her former BFF Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) whom she dropped with as much haste as Sky Sports did Eric Bristow. And fellow pupils hold her in such low regard that they want her to contract AIDS. Cue violins.

Therefore, it is no surprise that she sidles up to her high school teacher Mr Bruner (Woody Harrelson) and declares, matter-of-factly: “I’m going to kill myself.” What is a surprise, however, is his couldn’t-give-a-Saint-Francis reply, the gist of which is: “You’re at war with the world and his wife and nobody gives a shit? Quelle surprise! Welcome to adulthood and what passes for life. Deal with it.” But with a childhood described as “a raging dumpster fire” and with fewer friends than the number of digits it takes to raise a middle finger, Houston we have a problem! In a fit of anger and desperation, she shuns her “pathetic adorable” Korean admirer Erwin Kim (Hayden Szeto) for the “I want to give you head” man of her dreams Nick Mossman (Alexander Calvert) in a move which ends in kiss, cuddle and mortifying torture. And so, with no one else to turn to and nowhere else to go, she returns to her indifferent teacher for advice. Of which there is none.

The Edge of Seventeen by first-time director Kelly Fremon Craig could so easily have fallen into the meh category of high school coming-of-age romantic comedies, but what saves it from doing so is a frankness and quirkiness in tackling the many issues which affect teenagers on the cusp of adulthood: wanting to fit in, wanting to be liked, wanting to break free from your parent’s secure but restrictive apron strings to make your own way in life, to choose your own friends and to find someone special to make the short days long and the long nights short (or, at the very least, to lose your virginity to). Give or take a few Hollyoaks hissy fits (“Do you even know what it feel like to love another human being?”), writer and director Kelly Fremon Craig succeeds with aplomb.

Hailee Steinfeld is great as the seventeen going on seven-year-old Nadine Franklin: one minute, sassy and street-wise; next, doe-eyed and diddums. Woody Harrelson shines as the no-bullshit, every-cloud-doesn’t-have-a-silver-lining teacher Mr Bruner. And the rest of the cast, particularly Hayden Szeto as Nadine’s socially awkward but adorable admirer Erwin Kim, offer tremendous support. Most of the film is quietly enjoyable and subtly humorous, coasting along to a pleasing but forgettable three out of five. But what earns The Edge of Seventeen its fourth star is the last fifteen minutes during which Nadine, movingly, sees the errors of her ways, takes responsibility for making what’s wrong right and rediscovers what lay at the heart of her friendship with BFF Krista: “We told each other things we never thought we’d say out loud.” She still wants to stop the world, but it’s to get back on again after falling off!

Video courtesy of: STX Entertainment

The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
The Edge of Seventeen poster Rating: 7.7/10 (419 votes)
Director: Kelly Fremon Craig
Writer: Kelly Fremon Craig
Stars: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Kyra Sedgwick
Runtime: 104 min
Rated: R
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Released: 18 Nov 2016
Plot: High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother.
Peter Callaghan

Peter Callaghan

Writer at reviewsphere
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Dramatic Studies graduate, actor, writer and drama workshop leader. As well as a performance poet and corporate roleplayer.
Peter Callaghan

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