Being a teenager sucks - we know this as we were all one once. For high school junior Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) it sucks more than most - at least that's what she thinks.
It gets worse when Nadine's best and only friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) starts dating her older brother; the school and family's golden boy Darian (Blake Jenner). Friendless, fatherless and with an ineffective mother (Kyra Sedgwick), the loss of her best friend upends Nadine's already fragile world, sending her down a rabbit hole of insecurity, anger, contradiction and, basically, dubious decisions.
A spunky, smart and funny coming of age dramedy, filmmaker Kelly Fremon Craig has written an impressive debut feature. It's not without the usual high school clichés - cool kids, misfits, bad boys and nerds - and a John Hughes-esque lack of adults, but she captures the dramas of being a teenager so well you'd think the script was written by one.
It's filled with great lines covering everything from smart ass replies to awkward social encounters and impulsive outbursts, but it's the delivery that has them working so well. Steinfeld, who's been spending more time on her singing than her acting career after blowing us away in True Grit, is perfect as Nadine.
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Nadine is essentially a good kid who's been through the trauma of losing a father, but like many teens can't see beyond her own life experience, and is at times a difficult, moody, and an overly dramatic brat. Infuriating as she can be, Steinfeld keeps us on side and our compassion for Nadine's never slips.
The cast is nicely rounded out by Woody Harrelson as Nadine's sardonic history teacher and reluctant sounding board, Mr Bruner. Not one to share inspiration lines or schmaltzy clichés, Mr Bruner pretends not to care but listens as Nadine shares her angst.
As far as coming-of-age stories go, The Edge of Seventeen's refreshing mix of authenticity and quirkiness will charm teenagers of all ages.
Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson
Director: Kelly Fremon Craig
Rating: M (Offensive language, sexual references)
Running Time: 104 mins
Verdict: Authentic and charming coming of age flick.