Wowzers. Its been over two weeks since my last review so let’s see if I still have the flow. The Edge of Seventeen is a modern age teen drama centered around the fictional character of Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld). In her junior year of high school, Nadine faces significant difficulties in her life. From the passing of her father, to the fact that her best friend has started dating her older brother, Nadine feels more alone than ever. However, after becoming friends with fellow thoughtful teen Erwin (Hayden Szeto), life may not be so terrible after all for Nadine.
Many people compare this movie to Mean Girls in that they’re both teen high school dramas with a quirky sense of humor and feature a female lead who is struggling to adapt to changing circumstances. Having seen both films, they can be best distinguished by the fact that both their respective female lead characters are totally different. They face different problems, have different aspirations and handle situations differently. Nadine, played by Hailee Steinfeld, is a mouthpiece for thousands of teenagers around the world facing high school level problems. Dating, studies, finding common interests with other people are just at the tip of the iceberg for the problems that Nadine faces. This was my first time seeing Hailee Steinfeld embody any character, and I was nothing short of impressed. Nadine’s emotions are down to earth and her mannerisms reflect our own in similiar circumstances.
The biggest selling point of The Edge of Seventeen is its relatability. I have been in many of the situations that Nadine has been in. In a way, this film is a great reflection of the awesome and not so awesome times of my high school life. Seeing her go through certain situations gave me kick of nostalgia. There was a particular scene where Nadine attends a friend’s house party and quickly resorts to locking herself in a bathroom to figure out what to say to people she’s never met before to make herself seem more sociable. This was by far the best scene in the movie because it was the one I was able to relate to the most. Any film that can achieve this level of relatability knows exactly the film it wants to be.
On the flip side, can someone explain to me the purpose of Woody Harrelson’s character? I never really comprehended the impact his character had on Nadine. All he did was drop a few disses on Nadine whenever she approached him for help and drove her home once when she was really depressed. He never gave her any words of wisdom or encouragement. Aside from his humor, his character made no difference to my overall viewing experience. The film would have been the same without him. Other than this I don’t have any other significant complaints. Maybe a little less product placement would have been nice? It was great to see Nadine munching on Lays and sipping on Coca-Cola but was this really worth an entire scene?
The Edge of Seventeen delivers on two major fronts: its lead character and its relatability. Hailee Steinfeld as Nadine is fantastic. The film a throwback to the ups and downs of high school life. The themes and problems that are tackled are nothing complex and are relatable to all audiences. The Edge of Seventeen doesn’t strive to be a super-complicated, melodramatic piece about a female who is stumbling her way through her teen years. Rather, the emotions are kept grounded, the dialogue is kept natural and what we see on screen is what many of us have been through in our own lives.