….okay, with a little help from Woody Harrelson.
Feeling a lot like The Breakfast Club in 2016, The Edge of Seventeen is the story of Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) going through what, in her opinion, is every possible, horrible, terrible struggle. That, of course, is how the majority of young people her age will tend to feel in their teen years – “the world is ending,” etc. Things feel like they’re escalating when her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) starts dating her brother, Darian (Blake Jenner). Nadine and Darian are night and day; where Nadine’s life is in the gutter, Darian is popular, good-looking, and doted on by their mom, Mona (Kyra Sedgwick). Nadine’s perception of her mother leaves looking for another adult to get advice from -her history teacher, Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson) – and he generally finds Nadine annoying.
This movie is such a breath of fresh air. I’ve had my expectations low going in to see some of the latest films – not that I’m always looking for an Academy Award winner – but something fun, bright, relatable, and able to tell a story. Edge of Seventeen does this in spades. I must admit most of the cast works in a very incredibly ‘supportive’ way – that is, Richardson is the best friend who has everything going for her; Sedgwick is the antagonistic mom, but Steinfeld and Harrelson are charismatic – lighting up the room with her performance. I was never disappointed when these two opened their mouths to deliver a line. They were responsible for making the film work.
There is one other character I loved – and that was Erwin Kim, played by Hayden Szeto, who is actually a Vancouver native. The Kim character is sweet and dorky, and you’ve got to have those kinds of characters to help your protagonist grow. It’s obvious, at some points, this is Szeto’s first feature film, but, for the most part, he does a good job. Hands down his best scene: the scene where he’s on the phone with Steinfeld’s character, and he invites her over to his place. I was in stitches!
The look of the film is a nice blend of 2016, with some of yesterday’s (read: 80’s) concepts – a nondescript high school, an average town, some really mean kids – but it helps Steinfeld stand out. Funny enough, much of the film was shot in B.C. – you can pick out a number of Metro Vancouver landmarks. Shout out to Hollywood North!
Not much to complain about here; this film is a master class in executing a coming-of-age story in 2016. I strongly recommend seeing this film – it’s authentic, down-to-Earth, and will leave you feeling pretty darn good when you walk out of the theatre.
Five perfectly crisp edges out of five.