Film score: 2.5 out of 5
The Edge of Seventeen realistically, albeit boringly, depicts the struggles of an unlucky high schooler, Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld). The movie starts with vigor as Nadine poignantly reveals how her hero, her dad (a fantastic Eric Keenleyside), made her life livable. However, just minutes after this, he tragically suffers a heart attack and dies. From there, the audience watches Nadine’s life unravel as her best-friend hooks up with her brother, her mom (Kyra Sedgwick) fails to be a competent parent, and her crush turns out to be the piece of trash.
Viewers expecting a teenage Rom-Com inspired by Emma Stone’s Easy A will be surprised/disappointed by a far more dramatic plot which bears a closer resemblance to Shailene Woodley’s The Fault in Our Stars. However, unlike these movies, The Edge of Seventeen bored me. I left the theater feeling let down. I turned to my dad and asked him what he thought. “Loved it. Every parent and their daughters need to see it.”
After a day of reflection, I still can’t say it was a fun movie to watch or even entertaining. At least, not for a 24-year-old male. I mean, it did have its moments: Every scene with Woody Harrelson, Nadine’s English teacher/mentor, was magic and the car-make-out/almost sex scene was cringe-worthy, but for all the right reasons. The actors were fantastic and the direction was commendable. I saw no issues in those departments.
My trouble with the movie arose from its story elements. The first two-thirds lacked dramatic momentum. The movie’s trailer reveals the bulk of the plot’s points and more importantly, its twists. Therefore, when Nadine learns that Nadine’s best friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) is interested in her brother, Darian (Blake Jenner), the audience isn’t as shocked as Nadine because the trailer divulged this betrayal. However, this scene was one of the better scenes in the movie’s first half because when Nadine walks in on them, they aren’t having sex. Instead, Krista is giving Darian a hand-job. This might seem a crude element to highlight in a movie review, but its addition made the movie’s high school setting more realistic because teenage sexual encounters are awkward. Hardly ever, do they consist of the nude, moaning sex that most Hollywood studios demand in their movies.
Another let down in those first two-thirds is the things that rattled Nadine felt unimportant, and I found myself getting annoyed with Nadine. Her motivation was unclear, but my dad, my mom, and even my girlfriend, whoever I talked to about the movie, immediately understood Nadine and empathized with her. They all felt these were pertinent issues that need movies need to show and talk about. As my dad put it, “All teenagers and their parents need to see this movie so that they know that even when everything is going to shit and things keep going against you or your child, you’ll make it through, and the sun will eventually shine.”
Despite this one positive takeaway, The Edge of Seventeen is far too focused on a target demographic of mid-to-older teenage girls and indirectly, their parents, rather than having a broad appeal. The focus upon this demographic robs the protagonist of any empathy to viewers who outside this sizable niche. Moreover, the trailer bears a lot of blame for the underwhelming plot revelations because it divulges nearly all of its major turns.
By Hagood Grantham
Target Audience: Older teenagers, adults, parents.
For trailer, see below: