You know what’s the worst?
But whether you’re still in the thick of it or decades past your graduation, you’ll love watching Nadine Franklin (Hailee Steinfeld) skulk and snark her way through her junior year.
The Edge of Seventeen is the best kind of coming-of-age movie. It’s right up there with John Hughes’ and Cameron Crowe’s classics like The Breakfast Club and Say Anything. Nadine is self-conscious, falls for the wrong guy, irrationally blames others for her problems, screws up majorly, gets herself into bad situations, has her heart broken (and pretends she doesn’t care), acts a fool, and maybe—just maybe—winds up learning a little something and maturing ever so slightly by the end.
In any other actress’s hands, Nadine might have been the teen that you love to hate. But Steinfeld knows just how to walk that fine line between obnoxious and sympathetic, and I can’t overstate how impressive she is in this film. If you’re young and you don’t see yourself in Nadine, you certainly will in one of the other characters, be it her popular brother Darian (Blake Jenner), her more confident best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) or her awkward secret admirer Erwin (Hayden Szeto). If you’re old enough to be Nadine’s parent, you’ll thank your lucky stars that those god-awful high school years are behind you — and you’ll appreciate the insight into what it’s like to be a teenage girl now (especially if you have one of your own at home).
Keeping all of the teen angst in check is Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson), who Nadine often vents to in long, dramatic rants, only to be put back in her place hilariously. You’ll see what I mean by the end of the movie’s opening scene. Harrelson could not have been better cast, and I could watch him and Steinfeld play off of each other all day.
The Edge of Seventeen is truly a hidden gem because it didn’t have a wide theatrical release or a big marketing push when it came out, but it’s excellent all around. If you tend to like “teen movies” (and appreciate when they’ve got something intelligent to say) — or if you’re usually a Woody Harrelson fan (his role isn’t huge but it’s certainly memorable and one of his best) — give this one a shot! (Or be like a teenager and refuse to listen. See if I care.)