The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
Critic Consensus: The Edge of Seventeen's sharp script -- and Hailee Steinfeld's outstanding lead performance -- make this more than just another coming-of-age dramedy.
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as Mr. Bruner
as Nick Mossman
as Young Nadine
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Critic Reviews for The Edge of Seventeen
Steinfeld is able to play Nadine at peak asshole, with huge sympathy.
That weird, messy puzzle of trauma and affection where our high school memories reside is what powers The Edge of Seventeen.
Thanks to its edgy sense of humor and achingly accurate poignancy, the flick will touch a nerve with anyone who has ever had to ride that tidal wave of teenage angst. By the way, that's everybody.
Craig and her actors, all of them wonderful, have freshened up the genre: As familiar as the basic story may be, it also hits some raw, nuanced notes.
Audience Reviews for The Edge of Seventeen
I'm a sucker for any decent coming-of-age story. Even average ones are time well spent, and this one proves it. The movie isn't as clever as it thinks and more predictable than it wants, but the story is as strong as the great performace put on by Steinfeld. I appreciate any film that can accurately depict some form of social anxiety and clearly illustrate a real, but not overly-dramatic personal struggle, and this film does just that.
From The Breakfast Club to Superbad, the coming-of-age genre has been fairly popular through the years, and The Edge of Seventeen is just another classic to add to that ever growing library. While it does advertise itself as a film that will give teenagers some great life lessons, I highly recommend at least being as old as the lead characters. This is a very mature film for all ages above seventeen. It is very rare for a film like this to come out and draw in a wide audience, which is why this film is not being recognized by average moviegoers. Hidden in the cinemas under the hype of films like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them or Moana, there is not really a time to release a film like this where a major release won't steal its audience. I am focussing heavily on this statement, solely due to the fact that I believe everyone should view this film at least once before the year is up. Here is why The Edge of Seventeen is one of the best films of the year. Whether you have lost a parent, a friend, have become emotionally distant from your family, or have been so down on yourself that you turn to anything to make yourself happy, no matter what it is, I assure you that this film will relate to you in some way. The Edge of Seventeen follows Nadine, a 17-year-old high schooler who has recently lost her father. She has grown up with only one friend her entire life and as soon as that is stripped away when her best friend begins to date her brother, she is left with nothing but herself, whom she despises. This may seem like a very depressing tale on the surface, but if you let yourself into its story, there are laughs and a wonderful character study on this young lady. Once again, whether you are 18, 30, or 50, you will be able to recall a moment in your life that pertains to at least one moment presented throughout the course of this film. Films of this genre are meant to give certain emotions to audience members of all ages, but there are also some that are not for everyone, directing themselves at a core age group. The Edge of Seventeen is not part of the latter in this instance. As soon as this film seems to be getting a little too serious with its subject matter, it livens itself up by including Woody Harrelson's loveable portrayal of Nadine's teacher, Mr. Bruner. In times of need, whether it is for comedic effect or to move the plot forward in a satisfying way, this character holds a lot of this film together. Without him, Nadine's arc would not work as a whole. The structure of this film is impeccably done. When it needs to take a moment to weep, it does so. When it needs to make its audience chuckle before becoming too melodramatic, it does. Most of all, if it needs to reveal a message in its third act, you care so much about what these characters have gone through, that you will have nothing to do but believe everything that is happening on screen. Hailee Steinfeld deserves to be mentioned whenever the topic of coming-of-age stories happens to become a discussion. From Ellen Page's portrayal of Juno or Matthew Broderick's unforgettable take on Ferris Bueller, Steinfeld's way of playing the character of Nadine needs to be applauded if nothing else. She sold this character more than any other I have seen this year. This may not be the greatest film I have see this year, but I think this just may be my favourite character I have seen on the big screen. Her self-discovery in learning to love herself for who she is was absolutely fantastic. Like very few films I watch, this was all about the characters and they were so well fleshed out that I truly can't think of any aspects I would like to take away from it. I could honestly talk all day about how well this film was made, but I think a simple "perfect" will suffice for now. It may seem like a stretch to call a film like this perfect, but I found nothing that bothered me during my viewing of this film. Everything that needed to make her character develop and transform into who she is by the end of the film feels earned and I can't wait to go back and watch her journey again. The still camerawork normally would be too simple for me, but there is a time and place for everything. The simple and subtle cinematography throughout this film made me focus more on the story and its characters, rather than being blown away from sweeping shots or overwhelming music. To add to that, I could not believe that Hanz Zimmer did the score for this film. I commend him very much for taking on a smaller project like this. The Edge of Seventeen is everything I wanted it to be, and more. I loved every second of this film.
OUR MISS BROOKS - My Review of THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN (4 Stars) James L. Brooks has been behind some of my favorite movies, including TERMS OF ENDEARMENT and BROADCAST NEWS. He has even fully infused his quirky voice into screenplays he didn't write himself, such as BIG and SAY ANYTHING. Despite such spectacular failures as SPANGLISH, HOW DO YOU KNOW and I'LL DO ANYTHING, Brooks, when he's firing on all pistons, remains one of our most delightfully humanistic filmmakers. Enter newbie writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig, who brought her screenplay for THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN to Brooks, and lo and behold, he granted it the Gracie Films seal of approval and acted as one of the film's producers. This is not a common occurrence, so my antennae went up when I heard about this film. I can see why he responded to the material, as this is one delightful, complex comedy with a spectacular performance by Hailee Steinfeld that almost stands neurosis-to-neurosis with Holly Hunter's breakout role in BROADCAST NEWS. While the subject matter doesn't have the depth of Brooks' best work, this is a teen film that comes really really close to holding its own against SIXTEEN CANDLES and THE BREAKFAST CLUB. Steinfeld plays Nadine, an angry teen whose disappointment with life stems from a family tragedy. Even before that, however, she would present as antisocial, especially compared to her oh-so-perfect teen heartthrob brother Darian (Blake Jenner of GLEE and EVERYBODY WANTS SOME). She has one pal, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson, so wonderful in THE BRONZE and assured here), who creates a rift in the friendship when she starts dating Darian. Not helping matters much is Nadine's distracted mom (Kyra Sedgwick), whose mid-life crisis has reached peak code levels. With her young life in turmoil, Nadine frequently seeks solace from her laconic history teacher (a perfectly droll Woody Harrelson, clearly relishing every line he's given), but his style of support is to outdo her in the "I'm More Dead Inside Than You" Competition. Her threats of suicide can barely get a rise out of him, but his companionship proves invaluable nonetheless. When the story proper begins, Nadine seems stuck in her life. She's carnally interested in a dreamy guy at school yet she has so much more chemistry with Erwin, an equally socially awkward classmate played with never-ending charm by Hayden Szeto. Anyone who has ever seen a romantic comedy knows where all of this is going, but it's the journey that makes this film so special. Additionally, Steinfeld commands this film with such assurance, daring at times to be completely unsympathetic yet managing to expose a raw heart. Without the Act 1 tragedy, I may have found the entire film to be annoying, but it's what informs Nadine's worldview so vividly. She embodies the type of person who seems to be drowning yet shows little glimmers of the truly kind person trying to push her way to the waters' surface. While not an accomplished visual stylist, as a first time director, Craig shows great skill at letting each moment breathe, savoring that deliciousness of real human interactions. At times, it descends into sitcom beats, not unlike Brooks' style. After all, he DID bring the world THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, TAXI, and THE SIMPSONS, among others, so that style can't help but find its way into material he produces. Still, there's a true beating heart here that made this a film to relish. I don't think people will be talking about this film in the same way they do about John Hughes' classics, but it's a more than worthy introduction to Kelly Fremon Craig. At the screening I attended, she cited Brooks as a writing hero of hers, and the fact that she managed to snag him to produce her first feature was a dream come true. With THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN, she shows she's more than capable of hanging with him. It's funny, this is the third piece of popular culture with EDGE OF SEVENTEEN in the title, the Stevie Nicks song, the wonderful 1998 film EDGE OF SEVENTEEN, and now, this. I guess there's something so evocative about the words that inspires such lovely work.
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