“The Edge of Seventeen” is an absolute delight

There hasn’t been a true new teen movie that breaks through into the mainstream in some time. Sure, there are successful films starring teens or set in High School, but too often, especially of late, they’ve involved vampires or magic or some kind of nonsense like that. Then, through the smoke, comes The Edge of Seventeen, an absolutely terrific flick that restores your faith in this genre. Hell, it might even be a new classic. This week, it hits theaters and is just one of the best things to come out all year long. It’s a really special movie, plain and simple. Prepare for me to just rave about it today.

The movie is a dramedy about Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), a teen dealing with all the pain and suffering that comes from being in High School. She hates it, only really connecting with her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). In particular, she hates being the outcast, as compared to her popular older brother Darian (Blake Jenner), who seems to be preferred not just at school, but at home too, where he dotes on their mother Mona (Kyra Sedgwick). When Nadine discovers Darian and Krista in bed together, it shakes her whole world, something she pouts about often to her teacher Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson). Eventually she’ll have to grow up, but not before making some mistakes along the way. Kelly Fremon Craig writes and directs, while the rest of the cast includes Hayden Szeto, Alexander Calvert, Nesta Cooper, Eric Keenleyside, and more.

The writing and the cast are top notch here, in particular the aforementioned Harrelson and Steinfeld. Writer/director Fremon Craig makes this a smart and funny endeavor, but she also trusts her main two actors to just blow you away. Every moment they share together is gold, and while Steinfeld gets to shine on her own, they’re both worthy of a ton of praise. Harrelson is clearly having a blast, while Steinfeld shows why she’s soon to be an A-list actress. She commands your attention here. Fremon Craig also cements herself as one of the more exciting new filmmakers on the scene. I absolutely can’t wait to see what she winds up doing next. She’s a superb new talent, that’s for sure.

Awards wise, The Edge of Seventeen probably is a long shot to be recognized by Oscar, but independent bodies might gravitate towards it. Regardless, campaigns are well deserved in Best Picture, Best Director (for Fremon Craig), Best Actress (for Steinfeld), Best Supporting Actor (for Harrelson), Best Original Screenplay (also for Fremon Craig), and Best Film Editing. As much as Actress should be in play for Steinfeld, the only places you might see this even sniff Academy Award attention is in Supporting Actor for Harrelson and Original Screenplay for Fremon Craig. Honestly though, it’s primed for a tragic shut out. Hopefully the indie precursors can give it some love. Time will wind up telling there, I suppose. At the very least, my fingers sure will be crossed!

Overall, Friday’s release brings something special in The Edge of Seventeen. It just works on so many different levels, leading me to rave up and down like this. It’s funny, it’s touching, and it’s smart, just to point out three. I can’t recommend it enough to you all. Harrelson and Steinfeld give two of the year’s best performances so far. When I put out my year end top ten list, it’s highly likely that this one appears on it. The film is just that strong. Do yourself a favor and see it. This is one movie that demands not to be missed…

Be sure to check out The Edge of Seventeen, in theaters this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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