I wanted to love it, for the acerbic screenplay and nuanced performances. "The Edge of Seventeen" ventures into dark, stressful territory most 'teen comedies' wouldn't broach -- but it betrays itself when it shoehorns tacky 'teen comedy' elements into the narrative, at the expense of a consistent tone and natural character development. Still a special film, but it could've been so much more.
I connected with Nadine and thought I understood each of the feelings that she keeps storming all over the place. The ending could be too luminous or plain for some, but Hailee Steinfeld helped me buy into it. Haley Lu Richardson is radiant and Woody Harrelson's crude sacarsm works marvels when crossing fire with Nadine. Possible moral is: you may have to teach yourself to think outside of you if no one else did.
Hailee Steinfeld gives one of the most brilliantly committed and thoughtful performances I've seen in a coming of age movie, perfectly portraying Nadine - and by extension, all teenagers - as her own worst enemy. The short texting scene towards the end between Nadine and her mother beautifully illustrates the eternal parenting anguish of Letting Go.
The reviews led me to expect something a lot better. Unfortunately this is far too heavy on the coming-of-age movie clichés and far too predictable to stand out. And, although the cast are generally good, they are all far too old and talk more like grad-school students than teenagers. Disappointing.
I'm so glad I gave this movie another shot. I enjoyed it a lot more this time and noticed a lot of different things in its writing and direction that make this a great and heartfelt coming-of-age movie. Best in show is Hailee Steinfeld, who took a role that could've easily came off as obnoxious and turned it into a endearing and luminous performance. I loved the rest of the cast as well, Woody Harrelson particularly.
I suppose Film Comment is probably right that this gets us about as close to the emotional honesty and quotidian verisimilitude of teen films of the '80s as we're likely to get by way of Hollywood these days, but it still feels pretty far off to me. Diary of a Teenage Girl is superior but perhaps not directly comparable, what with being a period piece and all. 2.8