With her first feature film, director Kelly Fremon Craig taps into the modern high schooler and exposes their fragility without an ounce of guardedness. She holds nothing back in this impressively candid, spunky high school dramedy, The Edge of Seventeen. Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Pitch Perfect 2) is a firecracker as Nadine Byrd, a cynical high school junior with the usual tendencies. You know, where every ant hill dramatically morphs in to Mount Everest.
Following an unexpected tragedy, Nadine is lost and being socially inept certainly doesn't help. Her mom (Kyra Sedgwick) can't be counted on. She's loving, yet feckless when it comes to understanding her children. And there's no room for remorse with Nadine. Though who can blame her after she finds her bff Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) sharing the same sheets with her older brother Darian (Blake Jenner). He's the all-star athlete with the looks and the physique. Through his lil sis's eyes, he's living the good life. Shockingly, she doesn't know everything.
When it comes to boys, Nadine wants the rebel in black (Alexander Calvert) while being oblivious to the shy, goofy Erwin (hysterically played by Hayden Szeto) who is enamored by her sass. The only person she can turn to is her history teacher Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson). She asks for his advice but rarely seems to put it in to action. Perhaps it's because his experiences come firing out with total disregard for feelings. Harrelson's succinct performance is a comic catch. His and Steinfeld's scenes are hilarious and who better to put Nadine in her place. It's for her own damn good.
The Edge of Seventeen is well-executed and sharply written with honesty and humor. Nadine's emotional journey brings out the very best in Steinfeld. She owns this role from the start by dallying around the drama and distraught of a teen girl with stunning distinction. When a coming-of-age story is done right, it verily enfolds the absurd, awkwardness, and anxiety of growing in to your own skin.
We were all teenagers once and The Edge of Seventeen nails it.