Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Movie Review #524: "The Edge of Seventeen" (2016)

Director: Kelly Fremon Craig
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes
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An awkward teen who is uncomfortable in her own skin starts to feel like her life is falling apart when her best friend begins dating her brother.

Written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, "The Edge of Seventeen" is a coming-of-age story about an awkward antisocial teen named Nadine, played by Hailee Steinfeld. Nadine has always resented her brother Darian, played by Blake Jenner, who has an outgoing personality, lots of friends, and is very popular. She doesn't get along with her mother, played by Kyra Sedgwick, either, and matters have only gotten worse since her father, played by Eric Keenletside, passed away when she was only 13. Her only happiness comes from hanging out with her best and only friend Krista, played by Haley Lu Richardson, whom she has known since the second grade. Unfortunately, when Krista and Darian hook up and start dating, Nadine begins to feel as if her life is falling apart, even more so than it already was.

Look, BigJ and I have both been teenagers, contrary to popular belief. Being a teenager and feeling like your life is constantly being ripped apart at the seams go hand in hand. When you are young and in high school, all of your problems, no matter how small, seem magnified to the nth degree and feel insurmountable. "The Edge of Seventeen" does a top notch job offering a genuine, candid portrayal of those emotions. It is a supremely witty comedy that has some really great banter between its characters that never feels fake or forced, like so many other films about teenagers do. Hailee Steinfeld's portrayal as the snarky, awkward, snide and yet somehow endearing Nadine is nothing short of brilliant. Woody Harrelson also offers a fantastic performance as Mr. Bruner, Nadine's teacher and confidant who can dish it out just as well as he can take it. The two often trade verbal jabs at each other, yet he is always able to ground Nadine when she blows things out of proportion. Steinfeld and Richardson also have fantastic chemistry as best friends, and as the audience, we feel extremely bad when things end up the way they do after Krista starts dating Darian. Speaking of Darian, he might seem like the typical popular jock on the outside, but he's actually a deceptively deep character, which is really the theme of the entire film. Jenner plays this part expertly for such a young actor. Finally, Kyra Sedgwick as Nadine and Darian's calamitous, not completely with it, now single mother should be a stable force for both of them, but she's really more concerned with herself and her grief. There are no real heroes or villains in this film. Each character has their attributes as well as their faults. Each one of them feels like they could be a real life person, that's how realistic it all is.

Kelly Fremon Craig is able to balance genuine, forthright humor that will keep the audience laughing throughout this movie's run time with well thought out, captivating, human drama that really moved us emotionally. Sure, there are some formulaic aspects to the film, but even though we know where the story is headed, "The Edge of Seventeen" has such a smart, well written script and deeply developed, layered characters, we fully enjoyed the ride to its ultimate destination. Every single actor in this film does an exceptional job, and this is one of the biggest surprises and one of the biggest breaths of fresh air of the year.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~94%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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