Release Date: November 18, 2016
Director: Kelly Fremon Craig
Writer: Kelly Fremon Craig
Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Kyra Sedgwick, Woody Harrelson, Hayden Szeto, Alexander Calvert, Eric Keenleyside, Nesta Cooper, Daniel Bacon, Lina Renna, Ava Grace Cooper, Christian Michael Cooper, Jena Skodje, Josh Simpson, Kavandeep Hayre, Meredith Monroe, Katie Stuart, Lyle Reginald, Chris Shields, Christian Lagasse, Kirsten Robek, Paul Herbert
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 104 minutes
Production Company: Gracie Films, STX Entertainment
Genre: Comedy, Drama
If the title of the film suggests that once the main star turns eighteen she’ll grow up and stop whining, then it’s the best title ever in film history. That may be a stretch, but it still fits on many levels. Teenage years are full of adventures of growing up. Some are good and some are bad. When telling a story, a balance needs to be maintained to stomach the runtime, or said story may be only tailored to a select few. It’s not clear who this was aimed for, and whether that’s good or bad depends on what you’re looking for. If you want a strong likeable character that you can relate to or might learn something from, keeping looking, butif you want someone to sit around and complaining about things that shouldn’t concern them, you may have stumbled upon the greatest film of the year.
Everyone has their own experiences, and even if you are happy with your own life, I think it’s safe to say everyone has imagined what life would be like on the other side. This film doesn’t dive that deep, but early on Nadine’s (Hailee Steinfeld) personality was innocent and sweet. You couldn’t help but want to be her friend. Her sarcasm was a nice surprise when you started to get to know who she was. Therein lies the problem. On the surface, she seemed appealing, but shortly after revealed herself to be a jealous crybaby that seeks attention. Then when she gets the attention, she complains constantly. She can’t be happy for anyone other than herself. She starts fights with family members, ends relationships with friends over nothing, and leads men on sexually only to deny them at the worst time.
It’s inconvenient, because early on you had no idea the film was headed in this direction. It all started out pleasant, as if you were going to get the girl version of American Pie. It was fun seeing kids in high school live out their daily lives in and out of school. Some had the same problems all kids have, while others differed; which opened a new perspective. Even the involvement of Wood Harrelson’s character, Mr. Bruner, was a funny addition with the comedy. This isn’t anything new in a film, but to see the faculty be blatantly honest with minors is a treat to see. No matter what, Mr. Bruner always had a fast-snappy comeback that made you giggle on the inside.
It wasn’t all fun and giggles though. As the scenes pass on and on to the next you start to wonder where is the film going. There isn’t any plot or story. There’s no endgame or goal, just events from a girl’s life. Then she starts whining about every little thing. Nadine starts to disrespect her mother’s wishes, gets drunk, and then complains because her best friend and brother start dating. She never expresses why this is a bad thing and goes out of her way to make everyone else miserable. Her best friend and brother are the sweetest people in the world, and are nothing but sweet to her, but that’s not good enough. What lost me completely was the potential rape scene in the film. Trying to be respectful as possible, Nadine literally asked for it in the most vulgar of ways and then tried to play the victim. The involvement of this scene alone is ridiculous and served no point. Everyone in the auditorium was quiet, uncomfortable, and confused about why this was included.
The Edge of Seventeen started out as something you could get behind. Maybe you still can, but I can’t. Characters don’t need to be perfect, but they need to be at least something. If not you’re looking at nothing but an empty shell that takes up space, disregarding those that should receive your attention. Nadine didn’t deserve anyone’s attention, except the writer to fix all her problems. She had no love, no passion, nor interest. There wasn’t anything she was trying to accomplish or overcome. There was no story to follow. There’s nothing positive that I can say about her other than she’s good at being ugly, and if that’s your cup of tea, have at it.