Movie #206 2020: The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

Ah, the coming of age movie. Everyone loves them, but of course some are better than others. There seems to be a similar sort of tone attached to coming of age movies in the modern age, but more about that later.

The Edge of Seventeen is a 2016 movie of said genre, which looks at what it means to be the outspoken yet loner teenage girl in the United States. Hailee Steinfeld stars in the lead role as Nadine, the melodramatic loner who literally only has one friend in the world. Usually, she’d be fine with that. But one night, Nadine gets so drunk that she passes out, and her best friend has sex with her brother while she’s asleep. Once she finds out, all hell breaks loose and Nadine finds herself all alone after the best friends have a huge argument.

Without even asking, you can just tell that this was probably the movie of the year for straight, cisgender, self-centred white teenagers, but personally, I don’t check the majority of those boxes so I kind of found it just average. The most disappointing thing is, I happen to have already seen Booksmart, Eighth Grade and Lady Bird, so the whole nihilistic, sad yet funny teenage movie thing is getting kind of old. (Yes, I know this came out first, but even then The Edge of Seventeen doesn’t quite have the pizzazz of the aforementioned smash hits.) It’s not that this is a bad movie, it’s just that other movies of a similar facade seem to really encapsulate what it means to be a teenager in the modern world more so than this one does.

Sure, this will be highly relatable to some people. There are most definitely people out there who saw themselves (and still see themselves) as brash, moody, hormone sacks as seen in Nadine. However, films like Booksmart seem to have a more universal relatability to them, as the range of emotions tends to be broader. The Edge of Seventeen focuses almost solely on sadness and lonerism, whereas those I already mentioned have characters with so many things going on in their heads that it’s impossible not to relate in one way or another. See what I mean?

Cast-wise, this one is just as good as any. Top marks are awarded for Woody Harrelson of course, who plays Nadine’s hilarious, deadpan, but slightly inappropriate teacher. Hailee Steinfeld brings a good performance in the lead role and is suitably whiny, but she’s certainly no Saoirse Ronan or Beanie Feldstein. Then again, the character she was given is much more one dimensional than Lady Bird or Molly, so there’s not really much else she can do in that regard.

The Edge of Seventeen is not without it’s merits; I really loved the soundtrack, and the cinematography was fine albeit quite standard in terms of artistic license. However, despite having a strong start, the plot was ridiculously obvious and I’m just not entirely sure if there’s a point to this movie other than to relate to a small sample of seventeen year old white girls.

Again, there are definitely people who will love this movie. For me personally, it just didn’t have the oomph that other coming of ages stories have had in recent years.

The Edge of Seventeen is available to stream on Netflix UK.

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