The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

“There are two types of people in the world: The people who naturally excel at life. And the people who hope all those people die in a big explosion.”

Teen angst is not new material. And yet, The Edge of Seventeen somehow manages to inject new life into the tried and tested genre. Like many a coming-of-age protagonist, Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) isn’t popular, well liked, or even particularly friendly with her own family. She’s been engaged in a home war on two fronts since her father’s tragic death, with both her brother Darian (Blake Jenner) and mother (Kyra Sedgwick), her only solace in the world is Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), her best friend. Despite the setbacks in her life, Nadine was more or less content with the life she had… until Krista begins dating Darian.

The Edge of Seventeen is a refreshingly, and even painfully, raw depiction of teenage-hood. Nadine exhibits signs of anxiety and depression, even accidentally sending sexually explicit messages to her crush to whom she’s never actually spoken to, and she’s also desperate for connection and affection from those around her. Helping her through this mini-existentialism are her teacher, Mr Bruner, (Woody Harrelson) and classmate Erwin (Hayden Szeto). Mr Bruner’s stoic nature serves as a wall off which Nadine bounces her problems, while Erwin’s earnest and unyielding nature enables Nadine to learn how to open up to others.

Writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig sets Nadine’s life on a journey to get better, but the road to recovery isn’t always a straight line, and the film shows us, instead, that sometimes getting better means admitting to your wrongs, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable around your loved ones. After the film’s climax, Nadine finally lets her walls down around her brother, and Steinfeld and Jenner take the characters through a heart-breaking moment of reconciliation. It’s a beautiful moment for both characters, who are finally able to bring their lifelong rivalry to a close.

The Edge of Seventeen isn’t life changing or particularly groundbreaking. On the contrary, it’s a film that sits with you when you’re lonely, and assures you that the whole world isn’t against you. You just need the right people to face it.

By: Darienne Sim

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