Edge of Seventeen follows the story of Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), an awkward teenager who is going hell while attempting to trudge her way through high school. She’s never been one for fitting in, only really having one real friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). Her mother (Kyra Sedgwick) neglects her and her brother Darian (Blake Jenner) is one of the self-obsessed popular kids at school. Things aren’t going well, but at least they’re going at a steady rate. Or at least they were until Krista and Darian start dating, throwing Nadine’s life into a whirlwind of awkwardness, teen angst and uncomfortable lunchtimes with one of her teachers, Mr. Brunner (Woody Harrelson).
Our central protagonist, Nadine, shouldn’t be a central protagonist that works, but she is. She’s problematic, drenched in self-pity, highly unconventional and, from time to time, a source of annoyance to all the other characters in the movie. Yet she’s brilliant. She’s got a bit of every sort of teenager mixed into her, making the film accessible and relatable to everyone who is or ever has been a teenager. Her awkwardness never fails to entertain, floating her way through all sorts of situations teenagers find themselves to be in. It’s real, and not always played for laughs, as some of the more dramatic moments pack a real punch.
Let’s not finish this review up without mentioning the supporting cast. Without them, the film wouldn’t be as good as it is. Woody Harrelson steals the show as a sarcastic asshole teacher who, believe it or not, isn’t actually as big of an asshole as he seems to be. His character is layered and real, working as more than just the voice of reason when it comes to Nadine’s countless problems. Sure, the filmmaking itself is decent at best, and the film decides to use irritating narration for no apparent reason and then stop using it halfway through, but this film brought us Woody Harrelson as a high school teacher all high school teachers wish they were, so I’m glad it exists.
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