Film Review: Edge of Seventeen

Hailee Steinfeld (from the Coens’ remake of True Grit, Pitch Perfect 2 and plenty more) is the best reason to catch this, the first film written, directed and produced by Kelly Fremon Craig, as she turns our painfully self-conscious, frustratingly self-obsessed protagonist into something more uncomfortably real than expected.

Perhaps ultimately just a touch too old (she just turned 20) and cool to absolutely 100% convince as an angsty 17-year-old wallflower, Hailee nevertheless bravely makes the character infuriating, funny and surprisingly nasty, often all at once.

Somewhere in America (although this was shot in British Columbia), we meet Hailee’s Nadine, a dark, cynical sort whose time is mostly spent making life hell for her mum, Mona (Kyra Sedgwick), and older brother Darian (Blake Jenner from Everybody Wants Some!!), threatening suicide to her long-suffering teacher Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson) and hanging out with her longtime bestie Krista (Haley Lu Richardson).

When a secret boozy night leads to Krista and Darian getting together, Nadine reacts in the expected fashion by turning against everyone, amping up the drama and trying to get friendly with sweet aspiring filmmaker Erwin (amiable Hayden Szeto), although she also lusts after dreamy Nick (Alexander Calvert, spot-on as a cheesy hormonal heart-throb).

No frathouse comedy or horny-teenage-rampage epic, this instead opts for a sharp study of just how tough, scary and confusing this whole damn ‘being young’ thing can truly be, and offers strong work from the star and the name supporting cast, a good ear for the ways in which teens/tweens/whatever speak and a diverse soundtrack, especially during the traumatic flashback sequence set to the tune of Billy Joel’s You May Be Right (!). And it’s definitely more fun than repeating Year 12.

Rated M, Edge of Seventeen is in selected cinemas now.

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