Edge of Seventeen
Aida Vucic | 25/01/2017
There’s been a significant shift in the representation of female roles in motion pictures, with the 80’s and early 90’s films featuring, quiet, dorky girls - undergoing an ugly duckling transformation and capturing the heart of the elite, handsome, out of her league Prom king.
But, as we’re all too aware, this is not reality, and Edge of Seventeen embraces this, accepting the teenage heroine for all her transgressions and awkwardness, offering a new version of the infamous years of high school.
Edge of Seventeen is a charming and quirky depiction of adolescents through the eyes of the socially awkward, self-professed ‘old soul’, Nadine Byrd played by Hailee Steinfeld. Having lost her beloved father whilst in her early teens, Nadine’s only solace is found in her one true friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). When Krista and Nadine’s perfect brother Darian (Blake Jenner) forge an unexpected relationship, Nadine is left on the outer, no friends, no boyfriend and totally misunderstood.
Whilst she’s bold and confident both in terms of her wardrobe and persona, she’s also full of self-doubt and self-loathing; emotions experienced by all those who ride the passage of adolescence. It’s a period in our lives where everything is complicated and no one understands, so what would otherwise be an unlikable character, is likeable.
Perhaps the film’s greatest feat is how relatable the film is - each moment feels awfully familiar. From the humiliating declaration of love with the addition of a descriptive sexual encounter to the early beginning of romance between Nadine and film geek Erwin. The film is further elevated by a convincing performance from Steinfield, who delivers each line with authenticity and facial expressions to match.
It’s a dialogue driven movie, with no better example than Nadine’s interactions with her history teacher Mr Bruner played by Woody Harrelson. The duos sarcastic standoffs, pokes fun at Nadine’s dramatization of her situation, with liners that will have you laughing out loud. Yet it’s not all fun and games, as the story tackles the concept of loss. Whilst largely focusing on Nadine’s experience, Edge of Seventeen provides closure for the remaining two characters; her mother and brother.
This is a strong debut for Kelly Fremon Craig. Witty in its dialogue and full of heart, it may not be as quick as Juno or as reflective as Little Miss Sunshine, but this is a well-executed portray of growing up. Lead by a strong young female lead, this witty comedy is sure to please.