The Edge of Seventeen slipped through the cracks when it came out during the Award season at the end of last year. It’s a real shame because it’s easily one of the smartest teen comedies to come out in a long time. It’s an impressive directorial debut from first time director Kelly Fremon Craig.
It’s about this 17-year-old outsider girl Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) who confides with her teacher Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson) that she plans to kill herself. Bruner tells her he plans to commit suicide as well and the film is told through a series of flashbacks. She is already a pretty awkward girl but when her best and really only friend Nadine (Haley Lu Richardson) starts dating her douche brother, she feels more alone than ever. However she soon meets a boy who may prove that life isn’t so bad after all.
Hailee Steinfeld made a splash in her debut a few years ago as the heroine in the Coen Bros’ excellent adaptation of True Grit. However since then she hasn’t done much which plays to her strengths as an actress but that’s all changed. She perfectly inhabits the awkwardness of being a teenager even though she is now 20. Woody is always great and is here but that’s just expected and Haley Lu Richardson who I have never seen in anything is a big surprise.
The writer and director Kelly Fremon Craig sent the script to one of her idols James L. Brooks, who is best known for his classic film Broadcast News and being one of the producers behind The Simpsons. She had only written a few scripts before and sent it on a whim but Brooks liked the script and agreed to produce it. She seems to have been able to grab from all the great teen movies that came before but puts her own stamp on the genre.
Overall The Edge of Seventeen is touching, funny and feisty enough to become a future teen movie classic. Steinfeld will become a massive star in years to come and is in almost every scene so it’s a real showcase for her talents. Kelly Fremon Craig’s knack for witty funny dialogue also marks the arrival of a unique new voice, hopefully she doesn’t end up like Diablo Cody.