The Edge of Seventeen

Directed by: Kelly Fremon Craig
Distributed by: STX Entertainment

Written by Livvy O’Brien


Capturing youth on screen can be difficult because of the painful and unpleasant awkwardness that surrounds a teenager’s small-scale world. In her directorial debut, Kelly Fremon Craig’s “The Edge of Seventeen” follows Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), a cynical and snarky teenage girl whose world is shaken when her older brother, Darian (Blake Jenner), begins dating her childhood best friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). Nadine struggles to learn how to stop hating everything, especially herself. She has a great deal of self-hatred and animosity toward her mother, her brother, and Krista. She’s consumed by her own misery which has rendered her oblivious to the positive aspects of life. 

This film differs from previous coming-of-age films in that it reflects the way actually teenagers behave, especially in the age of the internet, offering a voice for viewers of digital generations. I feel as though most coming-of-age films classify their characters into stereotyped attributes, which results in a poor depiction of youth on screen. “The Edge of Seventeen” blends angst with humour, and by including the usage of social media in a natural and culturally appropriate manner, it creates an immensely relatable film. At times Nadine is quite insufferable, yet, Steinfield approaches portraying Nadine in such a commiserate way; thus the audience cannot help but sympathise with her. Nadine has depth. She, at times, is dejected and despondent but not inconsolable. Every time I watch this film, I am overcome with a sense of validation because I feel acknowledged by the portrayal of Nadine. I also appreciate that even if you don’t relate to Nadine, you will undoubtedly relate to Darian and their mother. Each member of this family tackles their emotions in a different way, emphasising the notion that we all react differently to adversity and that’s okay. 

Not to discredit a classic, but there are reasons why movies like “The Breakfast Club” do not have the same cult following from younger generations of today as it did when it first came out. Society was different, there were different values, and “The Breakfast Club” handled coming of age in a matter suitable for the time. “The Edge of Seventeen” is relevant now, but who knows what will happen in the future? Ultimately, there is a lightheartedness to this film, but the times when it becomes passionate are what really stands out. Nadine has a sombre monologue near the conclusion in which she reflects upon herself, and the façade that she displays to her family of merely being a moody teenager is completely lifted. If there is one takeaway, it is that adolescence can be difficult, that growing pains are emotional, and that we should not allow others to dismiss us simply because we are young. Also do not send a… how should I put it? Risqué message to anyone when you’re upset.

“The Edge of Seventeen” Trailer

You can follow Livvy O’Brien on Letterboxd.

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