The fact that Edge of Seventeen feels both contemporary and nostalgic is a testament to its salty dialogue and sweet outlook, the bitterness of its teenage angst and the wistfulness of how harmless this angst looks in retrospect. That’s not an easy balance to strike, and if writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig’s generous film isn’t exactly an instant classic, it feels a lot like watching one.
Nadine Byrd (Hailee Steinfeld) is a teenager with a problem – a redundant description, perhaps. A social outcast with an annoyingly popular jock brother (Blake Jenner) and a cast-iron friendship with a fellow solitary (Haley Lu Richardson), Nadine drops from regular disgruntlement to perpetual self-pity when her brother and bestie begin a surprise romance. With a hopeless crush on a cool kid (Alexander Calvert) for added humiliation, and a strained relationship with her daffy widowed mother, Nadine relies on the begrudging advice of her bone-dry high school teacher (Woody Harrelson) and the tentative friendship of nerdy admirer Erwin (a very likeable Hayden Szeto, who provides the standout comic performance).
There’s something appealingly Caitlin Moran-ish about Edge of Seventeen, which is the directorial debut of Kelly Fremon Craig; it feels similarly honest and wry in a semi-autobiographical kind of way, and even has some of Moran’s sexual frankness, although it’s also dosed up on American feel-good positivity. No one is too flawed or disadvantaged in Craig’s film: the authority figures are ultimately reliable and the villains are ultimately non-threatening; the jocks are as sensitive and caring as the nerds, and the nerds are as shredded as the jocks.
But Edge of Seventeen still elevates its adolescent social outsiders to the status of martyred existential heroes (however wryly), and every generation deserves a film that does that. After all, 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) is on the edge of seventeen itself…
|What||Edge of Seventeen film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
02 Dec 16 – 02 Jan 17, Times vary
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more details|