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, confusing journey of growing up. Filled with authenticity, the film follows awkward high school junior 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 being sot 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 footballer older brother, Darian (Blake Jenner) and suddenly becomes more popular at school, leaving Nadine in a space of neglect and having 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 timeline of ‘it’s the best time of your life, is over yet?’ sums it 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 a time. Growing up is never easy, especially when you feel alone with no support like Nadine.

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

The film also explores the topic of change via Nadine’s struggle with losing her best friend. However, with his change, she 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, that he is overwhelmed and feels trapped in the role of father-figure and emotional support for their mother – thus providing a bedrock for them to build a more supportive relationship. This was an impeccable way to express the painful but enlightening journey of adaption and growth that many teenagers experience, especially in regards to when sibling rivalry turns into a genuine 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 growth. She makes many mistakes throughout the narrative, but she also discovers her strengths and weaknesses. She finds places where she thrives and other places that she needs to improve, whether it be her quick 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
 

One of the highlights of the film is that it shows Nadine as a flawed character, making no attempt to hide them or make excuses for her. 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. What Nadine gains is 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

By the end of the film, Nadine is a better person, opening herself up to others and starting to mend her friendship with Krista after having learned from her experiences. Yet, Nadine still has a long way to go and her life is still far from perfect or easy. This is what makes the film so meaningful in its realness, it’s not as if you go through a hard time in high and suddenly you’re a perfect person, it’s a long, winding road.

The Extra Bits:

Where to watch:

Amazon Prime: Stream, Rent & Buy

BFI Player: Rent

Chili: Rent & Buy

Who to follow:

Kelly Fremon Craig @KFremonCraig

Hailee Steinfeld @HaileeSteinfeld

Blake Jenner @Blake_Jenner

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