“The Edge of Seventeen” is a new coming-of-age comedy/drama starring Hailee Steinfeld of “True Grit” fame. Steinfeld stars as Nadine, a teen who feels she’s never really fit in, especially since her brother Darian (Blake Jenner) has always had the charisma, looks and popularity that she doesn’t have. She only has one friend, doesn’t get along with her mom (Kyra Sedgwick) at all, and has a crush on a guy at school who definitely doesn’t know who she is.
Nadine’s one friend is Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), who’s been her best friend for a decade, and Nadine has no need or interest in making more friends. This ends up backfiring when Krista and Darian start dating and, because Nadine’s relationship with her brother is fraught, she no longer wants to associate with Krista.
There are two people that Nadine seems to feel that she can lean on during rough times: history teacher Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson) and classmate Erwin (Hayden Szeto). Harrelson does a great job playing the begrudging mentor to a surly teen, similar to his role as Haymitch Abernathy in “The Hunger Games” franchise. Szeto is an unfamiliar face to most, but he shines as Erwin, especially in his comedic moments of awkwardness.
In addition to being a teen comedy, “The Edge of Seventeen” has plenty of dramatic beats. A family tragedy occurs early on in the film that hits the main character hard, and the repercussions of it last for every member of the family though they each deal with it differently. This movie discusses depression in a frank way, which is uncommon, especially for a mainstream coming-of-age comedy. Every character in the film has a level of depth to them as well, rather than just being two-dimensional stereotypes or simple foils of other characters.
The exceptional soundtrack cannot be ignored, with a variation of great music from several generations in both the foreground and background. Prominent songs include Billy Joel’s “You May Be Right,” The Struts’ “Ballroom Blitz” and Aimee Mann’s “Save Me,” while tracks like Miike Snow’s “Genghis Khan” and Generationals’ “When They Fight They Fight” only play softly in the background of a character’s bedroom, but still stand out.
Despite the fact that this film has a main cast largely made up of unknown and lesser-known actors, each character feels real whether they’re crying, yelling, laughing or just being drunk. This is a movie about relationships of every variety: friendship, family, romance. It is crude, with plenty of profanity and sexual language, but nothing about it feels forced or over-the-top. If you’re looking for a lighthearted comedy or straightforward drama, “The Edge of Seventeen” isn’t the movie for you. It will more than likely make you laugh, and it might even make you emotional, because it blends the genres nearly effortlessly in what turns out to be a great late-2016 movie.
Originally hailing from Pennsylvania, Jackie has called Austin home since choosing to attend the University of Texas, where she graduated with a degree in multimedia journalism. She loves spending time with her dog, writing about pop culture in all its forms and spending time with friends – eating, drinking and doing trivia. You can follow Jackie on Twitter and Instagram.