The Edge of Seventeen, I am pleased to say is a little film that came out of nowhere and not only did it far exceed all my expectations, but it turns out as of now to be one of my favourite films of 2016, if not my favourite film of the year and yes, it is that good. Within the first little while of the film I really was not expecting much as this seemed like another version of 2007's Juno, where you have a highly educated and yet very socially awkward teenager who has a very large vocabulary and speaks probably different than the grammar and language skills that most teenagers at that age possess. Unless of course you happen to be Ellen Page in the film Juno, which for the first while of the film I felt this could be a more adult oriented brother, or sister film to, which I was really hoping it was not. Nothing wrong with the film Juno per se, but I have already seen that before and was hoping not for an exact carbon copy of it. Thankfully as I gave the film time, it really ended up surprising me and I would say it is just as good as Juno, or as my initial reaction was that this film may even surpass that. This is a film that conveys beautifully and by beautifully I mean it is so true and honest about what an awkward and sometimes absolutely loathsome time both high school and one's teenage years could be. The film shows our main character Nadine, who is here played by Hailee Steinfeld, who I have not seen in anything since the Coen Brothers' 2010 remake of True Grit, but here she delivers what I think is so far my favourite female performance of 2016 in a role that is not just a cookie cutter outline of what we think teenagers in movies are supposed to act and behave like, but this film and Steinfeld's performance goes much deeper than that. The film truly shows that as teenagers we have a lot of growing that we do and not just in size and shape with our bodies. One's adolescent years often accompany many different changes in our lives from things going on in our own families, to things with friends inside and out of school and I am sure that some teenagers have home lives that are even more volatile and dysfunctional than anything that we can dream up for a movie and even getting out of bed for them in the morning to face a new day can be that challenging. Nadine, has had several setbacks, or difficult situations that have all occurred within a very short period of time. Most of these as with most changes in life, have nothing to do with any fault, or blame on her behalf, but still dealing with these things proves to be more than difficult for her. Because of this, Nadine chooses to lash out at the world and has in general a very negative and pessimistic outlook on life. We see her make so many bad and regretful decisions simply because she is unhappy and looking for any and everything to fill that emptiness and void in her life which she thinks she can fill by being rebellious and her own boss, but it will ultimately lead her to more trouble until what she needs is a good wake up call and some decent people who actually care for her, to step in and show her that people do actually care about her and that she has more than enough potential and so many wonderful qualities about her, if she would only let people see them. Steinfeld's performance can be extremely humorous at times because of Nadine's neurotic whims and quirks, but we also see her pain and suffering and her anger at the world which is portrayed here with so much emotion and depth that it is as I said this year's best female performance so far and hopefully one that is not ignored come awards time. Equally good here in a much different role is Woody Harrelson, as a teacher who becomes a pal and almost one to confide in for Nadine, who is more empathetic and caring to her needs than what he lets on. It is a humorous performance, but one played so well that at times it also shows a beautiful side to it of caring and just being the kind of great teacher that we all so badly deserve in high school. The Edge of Seventeen has wonderful teenage characters and it's depiction of not only them, but also of the parents and adults in this film is so spot on and accurate that it has not been this perceptive, or good probably since Todd Solondz's film Welcome to the Dollhouse, which is another great and accurate film of the pains of high school. This film has wisdom beyond what it shows and is a great showcase for this up and coming director and is a film that teenagers will not only relate to as well as adults and anyone who has even been in high school for a little while. One of the most intelligent and astute films in awhile and also so far this year's best.
The Edge of Seventeen
Everyone knows that growing up is hard, and life is no easier for high school junior Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), who is already at peak awkwardness when her all-star older brother Darian (Blake Jenner) starts dating her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). All at once, Nadine feels more alone than ever, until the unexpected friendship of a thoughtful boy (Hayden Szeto) gives her a glimmer of hope that things just might not be so terrible after all.