#REVIEW: “THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN”
Review by Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
The first word that comes to mind when watching writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig’s new Movie is… awkward. In fact, the word appeared in my notes so frequently I was beginning to feel self-conscious for identifying so much with the Film’s main character, Nadine. The Edge of Seventeen is about that confluence of moments when it seems like the entire world is conspiring to make your life as awkward and angsty as possible because your misery is somehow amusing.
Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) has always lived life on the fringes of popularity and only her deceased father ever really seemed to understand what made her tick. Even her self-absorbed mother (Kyra Sedgwick) blatantly prefers her brother, Darian (Blake Jenner). Nadine is comfortable with herself despite her low place in high school society because she knows her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) always has her back. Then one morning Nadine wakes up to the ultimate betrayal: her brother and best friend in bed together. With her world falling apart around her, Nadine struggles to find her footing in this new self-imposed, lonely reality.
How much one cries at a Movie is dependent upon how much that person identifies with a given character. Confronted with indifference from her favourite teacher (Woody Harrelson) and confusing signals from her crush (Alexander Calvert), Nadine is constantly left feeling like she is alone in the world. Craig’s original script suggests that Nadine’s isolation is a result of her immaturity but for viewers who themselves have felt like the punchline in God’s great practical joke, it is cause to need multiple tissues.
It is difficult to discuss any movie about teenagers in high school without hearing someone invoke the name John Hughes. All the hallmarks of the late Deity of Teen Movies are present in Edge: a great soundtrack, relatable characters, and sharp writing; but those markers alone not quite sufficient to earn a spot in the Pantheon of Timeless Teen Movies.
Edge was produced by Gracie Films, which is best known for The Simpsons, and there are plenty of Easter Eggs and nods to the long-running show throughout the Movie. Perhaps the greatest homage is the animated sequence near the end of the movie which helps make this TIFF ’16 Closing Night Film stand unique in a vast sea of would-be John Hughes impersonators.
Great Indie Movies like The Edge of Seventeen deserve an audience. While magic may lure people to the multiplex this weekend true Film Connoisseurs will hopefully opt to visit with a girl who’s going through a tough time and really deserves the support.
VVS Films release The Edge of Seventeen on Friday, November 18, 2016.