With the endless monotony of raunchy comedies, tedious sequels and predictable Superhero movies it felt quite refreshing to read about a film that has crept under the radar without conforming to the traditional formula required to come under the “Oscar-bait” category. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 95% Certified Fresh and a fanbase seemingly growing at an incredible rate, all things pointed towards “The Edge of Seventeen” brutally dominate the upcoming contest. Was that the case? Or was it a case of same script, different name?
Round 1 – Story
“The Edge of Seventeen” opens with Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) bearing all to her reluctant teacher (Woody Harrelson) about her immediate intention to kill herself with no remorse for the implications it may bring on to those around her. Rewind 10 years to see Nadine’s journey towards this defining moment in her life including a death in the family, an increasingly strained relationship with her best friend and a proposition that may have a massive effect on her confidence for a long time to come.
Before we go any further I have to admit that I am not a fan of the trope involving opening with a particularly prevalent scene that must stored in the memory while we are made to watch a certain time period beforehand that serves only to develop the importance of the scene.
Now that that’s off my chest, this story, and in particular the script it is accompanied with, is impeccable! All too often do writers fall back on to meaninglessly garish events that are supposed to define the characters without ever allowing those involved to naturally grow as relatable people. I cannot remember the last time I have sat back and truly enjoyed the complexity encompassing this excellent script.
The one feature that stood out for me was the way in which Hailee Steinfeld approached this script with such grace and intimacy. Her portrayal of the troubled Nadine gave me nothing but empathy for her growing plight from beginning to end. As a man watching this film I did not feel as though this was made to only accommodate one gender more than another. Instead it came across as a film that all genders can empathise with without ever feeling ostracised.
ROUND 1 SCORE: 9/10
Round 2 – Characters
The heart of “The Edge of Seventeen” consists of Steinfeld’s Nadine, Harrelson’s Mr Bruner and the insatiable Blake Jenne as Nadine’s brother Darian. All characters operate emphatically as a unit. Although Nadine is the nucleus, Darian and Bruner are the membrane that provide stability for the cell’s progression throughout its tumultuous lifecycle.
As much as I’m trying to convey my emotions, I don’t feel as though what I can say about Nadine will completely provide the depth of credibility required to genuinely express how great of a character she is! Female teenagers are too commonly treated as overly sexualised, emotionless bimbos that bend over backwards for the formulaic movie’s pouting protagonist. This is not Nadine!
Nadine is expressive, anxious, awkward, witty, introvert, depressed, infatuated but most importantly, she is a played as a genuine teenager. Think back to your teenage years and I dare you to tell me that every day was a love and butterflies. Being a teenager was awful! You had no concept of your place in the world, everyone seemed to be in a clique except for you and that person you were intensely in love with only looked at you once to tell you move out of the way. Nadine is this!
ROUND 2 SCORE: 10/10
Round 3 – Overall Enjoyment
“The Edge of Seventeen” is such an important story for all teenagers to watch it cannot be understated. This coming of age of drama manages to utilise elements of romance, drama and most surprisingly, comedy. There were a number of occasions I found myself openly belly laughing at the interactions between Nadine and her enigmatic teacher Mr Bruner. The way in which Steinfeld and Harrelson work off of one another with sharp witted responses, hearty one-liners and close to the bone conversations only adds another layer to this birthday cake of emotional depth engrained in to this story.
I am still sitting here musing about how a story about a 17 year old girl in America managed to tell a story that seemed to resonate so much with this 26 year old man in Grizzly England. I honestly don’t think I possess the literary vocabulary to convey the quality of this film. It is as enjoyable, uncomfortable and awkward as every day spent as a teenager and reaches a conclusion that befits the journey these characters are amply taking
ROUND 3 SCORE: 10/10
FINAL SCORE – THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN WINS BY KO 29/30
“The Edge of Seventeen” is a gorgeous film about the depth of emotions felt by teenagers on an almost daily basis. As adults it’s easy to think that our struggles are the worst things we have experienced in lives so far. But it’s easy to forget that as adults our emotions are at an consistently steady level. As Teenagers our hormones created such confusion that we were not capable of rationalising these events. Events perfectly detailed in this female-driven narrative about a person’s need to feel wanted in a world begging for people to be different.