The Edge of Seventeen


(spoiler free)

Coming of age and teen films have the potential to be quite special. Focusing their attention on one or a group of young adults opens up the opportunities for a lot of humour, emotion and drama. With audience members usually being able to relate to some aspect of these films they can become instantly more engaging and have the power to stay with people for much longer than simply the running time of the film. Some recent favourites of mine have been ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’, ‘The Kings of Summer’ & ‘The Way Way Back’. I was keen to see if ‘The Edge of Seventeen’ could compare.

This film is brought to us by first time director Kelly Fremon Craig, who cites John Hughes as an influence for her writing here. She has penned a good coming of age drama with this film, nailing the awkwardness of so many aspects of a teenagers life. Overall the story isn’t anything groundbreaking and we’ve seen this kind of thing before, but what coming of age drama these days is original? I think with these types of films it’s all about how you engage with the story and how it can connect with you. For me the narrative started well, grabbing my attention from the get go however it meanders to a distinct lull in it’s mid section where I almost lost all interest. Thankfully the writing is capable of drawing audiences back in and the final third of the film is quite entertaining. There is a good mix of humour, emotion and drama present in the movie. It could have been overly sentimental but it often skips over the more emotional aspects of the story, which was maybe the most original part of the film. Although I can’t help but think I would have cared more for the characters if some more attention had of been given to this element.

The characters who reside in Craig’s story are quite realistic, she doesn’t throw in exaggerated characters just for the sake of it. This certainly adds an authenticity to the movie but simultaneously robs it of some of the fun it could have had. Saying that many of the characters here are funny. Hailee Steinfeld plays the main character, Nadine, and whilst shy and awkward in social situations she has a hilariously lovable personality around those she’s comfortable with. Steinfeld performs very confidentially showing ability in a varied role. Alongside her is Woody Harrelson, who plays the now rather cliched teacher/mentor figure that acts as a comfort to our protagonist. Thankfully Harrelson and Craig work together in making his character refreshing within this cliche, often being rewarded with the biggest laughs of the film.  The supporting characters are also played well by the other cast members and benefit once more from good character writing.

For a directorial debut Kelly Fremon Craig can be proud as she has crafted a competent coming of age tale. She gets the most of her cast and works at avoiding character cliches through her writing. At times she strives to avoid some emotional sections which I think might of enhanced the film more so and there is pacing problem in the mid section. However, once the film progresses through this it will leave you feeling adequately entertained and feeling glad that you saw it.

Rating – 7.5/10

Question: What is your favourite coming of age or teen drama movie?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)

Thanks for reading this review and please let me know what you thought about the movie! Leave a comment below or drop me a tweet over at @HCMovieReviews.

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