“The Edge of Seventeen doesn’t cover much new ground, but what it lacks in originality it makes up for with its well-written, often hilarious dialogue and a lead character who is almost impossible not to sympathise with”
In some ways this is just another teen movie – but to describe it as that would not be doing it justice. This movie plays with some well-worn themes and storylines but manages to delve deeper into them than what we would usually expect from a film in this genre. Lead actress Hailee Steinfeld plays Nadine – the virtual embodiment of social anxiety disorder and teenage angst. She doesn’t fit in to life or society in general, and she only has one close friend. She is neurotic, complicated, misunderstood, and she is often incapable of communicating her feelings in a way that can be understood or sympathised with by other people. Her difficult nature results in her being shunned by most of her peers, and often her own mother. In contrast, the audience watching the movie (which is narrated from Nadine’s perspective) are allowed to see the inner workings of her mind, and because of that she is easy to understand. She’s just a girl who feels all at sea in life and really wants to connect with other people, but doesn’t particularly know how. It’s almost impossible not to feel for her, even if sometimes in the height of her neurosis you do really want to tell her to get a hold of herself.
Woody Harrelson plays Nadine’s ultra-sarcastic high-school teacher. He’s the best character in this movie, after Nadine. The unexpected comic relief that he provides to the movie at the most unexpected moments prevents it all from getting a bit too serious. Somehow, the two of them end up forming an unlikely love-hate type of friendship. The term “love-hate” would probably apply to the relationship between Nadine and most of the other characters in this movie, not least between Nadine and her mother (Kyra Sedgwick), with whom she continually clashes. The very same can be said about the relationship between Nadine and her brother (Blake Jenner of “Glee” fame), who is her polar opposite – outgoing, popular and clearly the “favourite” as far as their mother is concerned. It’s a classic blueprint for a troubled family. Even Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), Nadine’s one and only loyal friend from childhood, ends up in a bitter fight with her. Her classmate Erwin (Hayden Szeto) is one of the few people who she does not clash with.
The main weakness this movie suffers from is its heavy reliance on well-worn storylines that we have all seen before. There was a definite sense of knowing what was going to happen next at quite a few different parts of the movie. The aforementioned Woody Harrelson does a great job at shaking things up a bit in that regard, but he can only do so much. There is a great exploration of the themes of teenage angst, it’s all portrayed very effectively and we have a perfectly cast lead actress – the storyline just needed to not be quite so predictable. Overall, it doesn’t quite reach the heights of a movie such as “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, but it is a damn good attempt.
The Edge Of Seventeen is in cinemas nationwide from November 30.