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Dan's Review: "The Edge of Seventeen" recaptures spirit of John Hughes

Nov 16, 2016 11:50PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson in The Edge of Seventeen - © 2016 – STX Entertainment

The Edge of Seventeen (STX Entertainment)

Rated R for sexual content, language and some drinking - all involving teens.

Starring Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, Hayden Szeto, Eric Keenleyside, Laine MacNeil, Katie Stuart, Alexander Calvert.

Written and Directed by Kelly Fremon Craig

GRADE: A-

REVIEW:

Coming-of-age Teen “dramedy” movies have become cliché recently, morphing into melodramas about death (If I Stay, The Fault In Our Stars, etc.). We get it. Teen years can suck. We were there, too. Hormones, friendship issues and adolescent drama knocked all of us on our butts. The Edge of Seventeen is an homage of sorts to those John Hughes coming-of-age teen flicks of the 80s and 90s, starring Hailee Steinfeld as a young woman who can’t seem to get a break.

Steinfeld plays Nadine, a 16-year-old social misfit whose only redeeming safety net is her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). Nadine’s awkward, sarcastic demeanor is influenced by the untimely death of her father, her perfect brother Darian (Blake Jenner) and her unstable mother (Kyra Sedgwick). Nadine also uses her teacher Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson) as a sounding board for all her troubles. She also has a major crush on a hunky local bad boy named Tom (Eric Keenyside), who doesn’t know she exists. Meanwhile, another nerdy boy named Erwin (Hayden Szeto) has a crush on Nadine, but she treats him like dirt.

Nadine’s troubles get worse when Krista falls for Darian, she embarrasses herself with Tom, and she basically ruins all her relationships. She is left shambles, and must learn to look inside to fix her problems, rather than blaming others.

The Edge of Seventeen is very much like all those John Hughes movies from 20-30 years ago, complete with unrequited love, maturing relationships and the promise that there’s someone out there for everyone. It’s well written and very funny in all the right spots, even though there’s a little too much raunchy humor and vulgar language for my taste. Nadine’s character, although the supposed protagonist of the story, comes across as extremely unlikeable for a majority of the movie, clearly unaware that most of her troubles are obviously a “you” problem.

Even with these unappealing aspects of her character, Hailee Stenfeld’s performance is the best she’s delivered since her Oscar-nominated role in the Coen Brother’s True Grit. She has great comedic timing, just the right amount of toughness and plenty of sardonic wit to pull it off. Equally brilliant is Woody Harrelson, who compliments Steinfeld with an unrelenting sarcasm and understated empathy.

The Edge of Seventeen is successful as a modern revival of all those John Hughes-like movies. It might not be very original, but there is always a fresh crop of teens who can relate to such entertainment.

 

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