ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 21: The Edge of Seventeen

Year: 2016

Runtime: 104 Minutes

Director: Kelly Fremon Craig

Writer: Kelly Fremon Craig

Stars: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick

Kelly Fremon Craig‘s 2016 film, “The Edge of Seventeen” is an insightful and relatable look into the exhausting and confusing journey of growing up. Filled with authenticity, the film follows the awkward Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) as she struggles with the rollercoaster that is high school, an overwhelmed mother and the death of her loving father. As Nadine begins to reach the dreaded edge of seventeen, she is suddenly pushed out of her comfort zone as her only friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) starts dating Nadine’s all-star older brother, Darian (Blake Jenner), boosting her popularity at school and leaving Nadine neglected but in a space to finally discover her sense of self.

What She Said:”A terrific teen comedy with the traditional feel of John Hughes’s Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink.”

Kate Muir, Times (UK)
 Twitter @muirkate

As someone who originally watched this film on the literal edge of seventeen, I found this film to be spot on in regards to believability and relatability. The advertising tagline of ‘it’s the best time of your life, is over yet?’ sums this time up perfectly since high school and teenage years are always glamorised in films, but in reality, a lot of teens struggle with this rollercoaster of adolescence. Growing up is never easy, especially when you feel alone with no support or direction, like Nadine.

edge Hailee Steinfeld in The Edge of Seventeen © 2015 STX Productions, LLC

The film also explores the topic of change and growth via Nadine’s struggles with losing her best friend. However, with this change, she is thrown from her bubble of self-pity and is exposed to the different perspectives of those in her life including Darian and her teacher, Mr Bruner (Woody Harrelson). She learns that her perfect brother isn’t living the easy life she thought, but instead is overwhelmed and feels trapped in the role of father-figure for Nadine and emotional support for their frazzled mother. The arc between the two is truly interesting and impeccable as it provides a bedrock for them to build a more supportive relationship, but also expresses the painful but enlightening journey of adaption and growth that many teenagers experience, especially in regards to when childish sibling rivalry turns into a genuine adult friendship.

What She Said:”The world is full of beautiful, complex humans. Sometimes it just takes a bit of growing up to notice them.”

Debbie Holloway, Narrative Muse

Twitter: @tinydebbiejane

the-edge-of-17.jpg Woody Harrelson and Hailee Steinfeld © 2015 STX Productions, LLC

“The Edge of Seventeen” also features Nadine’s journey of self-discovery and personal growth. She makes many mistakes throughout the narrative, but she also discovers her strengths and weaknesses, and how she can become a better person. She finds places where she thrives and other places that she needs to improve, whether it be her quick, pessimistic judgement of others or her tendency to lean too heavily on her friends.

What She Said:”The Edge of Seventeen cuts deep, humor and tears bursting forth in equal measure making the movie a singular joy audience of all ages are almost certain to delight in.”

Sara Michelle Fetters, MovieFreak.com
 Twitter: @MoviefreakSara

One of the highlights of the film is that it shows Nadine as a flawed character, making no attempt to hide her faults or make excuses for them. Even though the film is sympathetic towards Nadine, she still faces the consequences of her mistakes and learns from them as a result. This is occasionally neglected in a lot of teen movies where the protagonist is ethically bulletproof regardless of the mistakes they make and always get exactly what they want at the end. Nadine may not have gotten exactly what she originally wanted, but she gains a new perspective and many life lessons that she’ll carry into eighteen years old and beyond.

edge-17.jpg Hailee Steinfeld and Haley Lu Richardson © 2015 STX Productions, LLC[/caption]

By the end of the film, Nadine is arguably a better person. She begins to open herself up to others, starts to mend her friendship with Krista and is overall learning from her experiences and is actively trying to better herself. Yet, Nadine still has a long way to go and her life is still far from perfect or easy. She is still seventeen and she is still a work in progress. This is what makes the film so meaningful and real because you don’t go through one hard time in high school and suddenly you’re a perfect person. It’s a long, winding road into adulthood, and there’s always going to be pitfalls, but there’s always room for growth too.

The Extra Bits:

Where to watch:Amazon Prime: Stream, Rent & BuyBFI Player: RentChili: Rent & BuyWho to follow:Kelly Fremon Craig @KFremonCraigHailee Steinfeld @HaileeSteinfeldBlake Jenner @Blake_Jenner

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