The Edge of Seventeen

The Edge of Seventeen

by -

See why our movie critic says this film is a coming of age tale that’s a winner for adolescents and adults alike.


“I’m telling you – I was a MUCH better basketball player than Wesley Snipes on the set of White Men Can’t Jump!” Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) talks her latest mistake over with her teacher, Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson) in a scene from writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig’s debut feature THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN. Credit: Murray Close © 2015 STX Productions, LLC. All rights reserved. 


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, Blake Jenner, Haley Lu Richardson, Hayden Szeto and Alexander Calvert

WRITER(S): Kelly Fremon CraigDIRECTOR(S): Kelly Fremon Craig


HERE’S THE STORY: Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) is a teenage girl living in modern Oregon. And, to have her tell it, everything about her life well, sucks. Sure, her overworked mom Mona (Kyra Sedgwick) loves her to death, she has a best friend in the form of Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) and her brother Darian (Blake Jenner) is, well, by all accounts, living a perfect teenage life. But a tragic event a few years ago has really left Nadine a bit shaken, which – coupled with her general awkwardness – has has left her a bit neurotic and a general mess of an emotional teenage girl. 

Sure, she has some typical teenage desires like hooking up with Nick Mossman (Alexander Calvert), but dealing with her brother’s success and the general demands of high school life is so overwhelming Nadine often runs off to bother Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson) on his lunch break. At least Erwin (Hayden Szeto) likes her right? That’s got to count for something one would think …

But, as Nadine’s life takes several unexpected twists and turns, she finds herself doing what most teenagers do: Freaking out about everything in life and not sure what to expect next. 

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? People who miss 80s teenage movies that were John Hughes’ specialty but would like them with modern problems, language and realism; anyone who’s ever gone through an awkward phase with discovering who they are and dating in regards to the opposite sex; Woody Harrelson fans; parents not sure how to deal with modern teenagers; those who enjoy a coming of age story complete with heart, humor and honesty

WHO WON’T (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? People not prepared to deal with modern teenagers in terms of the language or sexuality; teenagers who may forget there is a script to take care of moments that, if unscripted in the real world, might not turn out the same way they do in the film 

SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? A film that won’t win any awards but likely will a lot of hearts across many generations, The Edge of Seventeen is just one of those solidly entertaining, heartfelt and humorous coming of age tale.

Steinfeld pretty much nails everything you would expect in regards to playing an angst-filled (sometimes justifiably, sometimes as a result of her own avoidable neuroses) teenage girl, making Nadine equals parts wise beyond her years (or at least thinking she is) and at the same time completely naive to reality. A bundle of misplaced energy and raw emotions, Steinfeld makes Nadine at times the girl you completely understand in how she feels like the oddball at the party … And then moments later can break your heart as you watch a misguided girl do things that you know are not going to work out the way she hopes they will. Through it all, however, Steinfeld’s performance feels real from start to finish with no false, convoluted emotions or actions, even when they run the gamut from normal to manic. 

Likewise, Steinfeld’s surrounding cast each plays their roles exceptionally well, with Harrelson taking top honors as a cool, calm and collected teacher willing to call Steinfeld on her BS to alert her to when she is being melodramatic in an entertaining fashion she understands. At the same time, he knows what to say and when to say it, never coming off in a corny fashion. This plays well against Sedgwick’s performance as a very overworked mother trying to make sense of her own life as well as being a mother to her children, going back and forth between the two roles with an effort that will likely feel all too familiar to many stressed adults. It’s a performance that really shows the difficulty of being a single parent today, the resolution coming with a simple revelation that should resonate hard.

The same can be said for Richardson’s and Jenner’s respective performances, being realistic teenagers that are focused on more than their smart phones without ever coming off in a manner that doesn’t fit their characters. Szeto – despite the fact he obviously looks like he graduated high school at least 10 years ago – rounds out the affair as the proverbial nice guy with a heart of gold, doing things that in one instance make you root for him to get the girl of his dreams (even when she is treating him like a nightmare) … And cringe when he does things that are obvious to EVERYONE watching (except him) that they are not going to go the way he expects.

A coming of age film that comes of age on its own quite nicely thanks to writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig’s attention to detail, understanding of both teens and adults and mix of humor and self-revelation, The Edge of Seventeen is a fantastically fun movie for people of all ages. To miss it would be to deny yourself one of the great films of 2016 … And one that showcases the art of finding your place in the world in honest and entertaining fashion.