The Edge of Seventeen
Starring Hailee Steinfeld, Blake Jenner, Hayden Szeto, Haley Lu Richardson, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick
First time director Kelly Fremon Craig’s biggest mistake is assuming every teenager is having a similar experience to her main character. Craig’s script casts Steinfeld (Pitch Perfect 2, Barely Lethal) in another bratty role that has quickly become her institution as an actress. The Edge of Seventeen goes for jokes on topics that I am not so sure we should be laughing at, including suicide, driving without a license and of course prescription drug and alcohol abuse all involving minors. Craig’s script, like most American comedies, depicts numerous scenes where the leading character behaves in the most disrespectful, selfish and immature manner only to try and do a role reversal in the third act before the conclusion. In a very disappointing turn of events, the film implies that our teenager will only be happy with a boyfriend.
After the death of her father, Nadine’s life took a turn for the worst. Her mother (Sedgwick) lacked the compassion to deal with a difficult child. Nadine was always different from the kids at school, and only when she met Krista (Richardson) did she finally feel a sense of community. Junior year in high school, everyone’s hormones raging the worst thing since the death of her father happens. Krista hooks up with her brother Darian (Jenner). Back to isolation, Nadine acts out in a variety of ways, stealing her mother’s car, refusing to go to school, telling her history teacher (Harrelson) she is going to jump off a bridge. It will take Nadine putting herself in danger and the friendship of classmate Erwin (Szeto) to reach a more mature place.
The Edge of Seventeen could function as a big budget PSA for abstinence.
While The Edge of Seventeen is certainly Steinfeld’s most edgy performance to date, she still feels stuck in the same type role that made her famous to begin with. She also doesn’t add much depth or reality to this character. Sedgwick as the mom is even more of a cardboard character, leaving newcomers Jenner (Everybody Wants Some) and scene stealer Szeto, to pick up the remaining pieces. Harrelson gets some of the scripts biggest laughs, not unusual for any film bearing his name. In one scene, Nadine tells her mother she knows everything she is going to say, before she says it, holding up pieces of paper. This was supposed to be funny, but mirrors what the predictable script is doing.
This is what a lack of discipline looks like. You can’t even use the excuse that “all teenagers act like this” because Craig’s script shows everyone else around Nadine far more mature and put together. On the other-hand, The Edge of Seventeen could function as a big budget PSA for abstinence, after seeing how this child turns out. In one of the most excruciating scenes, out of anger Nadine text’s her Johnny Depp/Cry Baby school crush (Alexander Calvert) the sexual things she will do for him if they can meet. Of course when he picks her up in his car expecting the inevitable, she gets angry that he doesn’t want to talk, walk or get to know each other before getting down to what she promised. The entire film is a frustrating experience that has little to no redeeming life lessons for younger viewers and will make parents cringe.
A mostly unfunny, unoriginal, valueless look at the modern teenager.