The central character of Nadine has lost her dad, feels disconnected from her overbearing mother and ‘perfect’ brother, yet still has an anchor in her best friend Krista, but when Nadine finds out she’s dating her brother, she pushes everyone away from herself and starts to feel more and more isolated. Her only moral support is her teacher Mr Brunner, and there’s the inkling of a bond between her and the lovable dork in Erwin. This is the kind of film that shows how being an outsider makes you more of a special person, rather than desperately trying to be the ‘perfect’ child. Deep down, the film has a deep and powerful message, which is that even though you feel alienated, alone and without many friends, and that life can occasionally suck, you are still a special, unique person who is much stronger than you think you know. Plus, this shows that even the most ‘perfect’ person feels miserable and afraid sometimes, so it’s important not to judge a book by its cover.
Ever since her phenomenal debut in True Grit, rising star Hailee Steinfeld has been floundering between good (Ten Thousand Saints, Pitch Perfect 2) and bad (Barely Lethal, Romeo and Juliet) projects, but in this film, she delivers her best performance to date, as well as one of the year’s best. Steinfeld carries the film by being funny, vulnerable, fearless and raw, whilst also having a radiant presence about her that makes it impossible to take your eyes off her. Even when she says the crudest of things, Nadine is someone you instantly root for, and that’s down to Craig and Steinfeld who both compassionately walk that fine line with some real inspired humour. There’s also solid support thanks to the likes of Haley Lu Richardson and Kyra Sedgwick, but it’s Woody Harrelson who immediately shines as he delivers the right balance of cynical and generous.
Overall, The Edge of Seventeen is one of the best films to be released this year, standing alongside other gems like La La Land and Captain America: Civil War. This is the kind of film that leaves you laughing and crying in equal measure, whilst also managing to be heart-warming, charming, and life-affirming. It is a film that has great performances throughout, especially in lead Hailee Steinfeld whose portrayal of Nadine is accolades-worthy. But, it’s also thanks to Kelly Fremon Craig for creating what is a true gem of a movie that has the hallmarks of a bonafide cult classic, which proves that she’s truly a talent to watch out for.
THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: KELLY FREMON CRAIG / STARRING: HAILEE STEINFELD, HALEY LU RICHARDSON, BLAKE JENNER, KYRA SEDGWICK, WOODY HARRELSON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expected Rating: 8 out of 10