Read the review after the jump.
THE EDGE OF SEVENTEENReview by Popa Razvan
Teen comedies are remarkable in how unremarkable they usually are. Since the golden days of John Hughes films, few other filmmakers have managed to bring any original and engaging stories to the big screen. Kelly Fremon Craig, however, has somehow managed to accomplish all that with the dramedy "The Edge of Seventeen".
The film explores seventeen-year-old Nadine's (Hailee Steinfeld) struggles with high-school life. She's awkward and unpopular and it's mostly of her own doing. She is insecure and stubbornly prefers to be an immature, bratty teenager. Things only get worse when her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) hooks up with her older brother (Blake Jenner), which pretty much sets her self-centered world on fire.
What the film's trailer and synopsis don't disclose is that she's also dealing with the pain of her father's death, a traumatic event that has left deep wounds, which she hides under a facade of self-righteous sarcasm. Clearly Nadine is bordering on clinical depression and this puts an entirely different spin on the usual teenage angst plot, adding even more things on Nadine's troubled checklist of things she has to work out. And high-school is the absolute worst environment for this kind of therapy.
Her history teacher, Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson), offers her some relief, as he becomes an unwilling confidant of sorts. Whenever Nadine feels like it, she just shows up and unburdens herself while he calmly listens, then cuts her off with a sarcastic remark. He makes it seem as if he doesn't care, but the truth is he does. He's just trying to keep Nadine grounded and away from a self-destructive path by not validating her anxieties, which he suspects may be largely unfounded (and they are for the most part). He's a father figure for her and even if he's flippant about it, he takes it very seriously.
The film isn't the classical teen comedy, but a heavier kind of dramedy. Which doesn't mean it's not funny. There are some really funny scenes, particularly between Nadine and Mr. Bruner, but it's not designed to be an in-your-face comedy. It's a realistic portrayal of a teenager's life peppered with humor that concerns itself more with gaining insight into its protagonist's inner world rather than turn everything into a gag.
The film's highlight is Steinfeld's tour-de-force performance, a performance that was nominated for a Golden Globe this year. She's in excellent comedic and dramatic form and mesmerizing to watch. Her best scenes are shared with Harrelson, who is equally brilliant in his understated performance. If the film only had the two of them throwing remarks at each other, it would still have been a pretty great film.
Overall, "The Edge of Seventeen" is an edgy, clever and very satisfying film, offering the best that both comedy and drama have to offer thanks to an excellent lead performance, a sensitive script, and perceptive direction.
- Excellent performances from Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson
- Avoids teen comedy cliches
- Clever script approaches difficult subjects with sensitivity
- Perfect balance of comedy and drama
- Not a damn thing
ENTERTAINMENT FACTOR SCORE: 100%
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