“The Edge of Seventeen” – a Bitter-Sweet Teenage Movie


When I saw the trailer of “The Edge of Seventeen” I wasn’t sure whether it was something I’d like to watch. A teenage cutsy, uplifting movie didn’t seem like something someone almost 30 years old could relate to. And yet, judging the movie by a trailer, similarly like judging a book by the cover, turned out to be rather misleading.

While we start watching the movie, “Napoleon Dynamite” immediately comes to mind. The awkward protagonist, Nadine (Hailee Steinfield) doesn’t seem to be dealing well with her high school reality and she has only one friend. Her hot mom is forever unsuccessful in search of a new boyfriend and her brother is the popular guy. How will our protagonist deal with a reality in which her only friend hooks up with her brother and they seem to be rather into one another?  That’s for you to find out, once you watch the movie.

“The Edge of Seventeen” is witty and has a lot of dark humor which I do often miss in the mainstream cinema. Of course, the protagonist is a bit too attractive and her legs are a bit too good for her unpopular status At school, but it is Hollywood after all. The young actress still does a great job at playing a rather awkward teenager who is forced out of her comfort zone by her circumstances. Another bright star of the movie is Woody Harrelson who’s at his best as a teacher who doesn’t take shit and tells people what he really thinks about them. I’m not sure how such a figure would really survive in the overly PC American education system, but that’s another story.

Apart from great acting and humor, the “Edge of Seventeen” often doesn’t comply with the viewer’s expectations. There’s a clear difference in the movie before lust and love, which teenage movies often tend to treat as one. The popular kids are also not exactly what we expect them to be. The criticism of unfair labeling seems to be an important part of the movie. The message is that the fact that people seem to be in certain way (popular, weird, lonely) doesn’t mean that it’s all there is to them. We just see a tip of an iceberg looking at people’s everyday behaviors and we’re not doing ourselves a favor assuming that we know all about them.

The ending of the movie does leave a viewer with a bit of a sour aftertaste. It’s a teenage movie so there has to be more sweetness than bitterness. It’s probably a good message for teenagers but I felt that the solutions to the problems of the main character were just a bit too smooth and required massive oversimplifications.

To sum up, “The Edge of Seventeen” is a more ambitious and quirky version of a typical feel-good teenage movie. It’ll remind you of films such as “Napoleon Dynamite”, “Juno” and “Little Miss Sunshine”. If you enjoyed them, you should have fun. As a “Twilight” fan you may not get what you expected, though. I recommend the movie and give it 7.6/10.

Have you seen the movie, Dear Rinser? Do you feel teenage movies these days give teenagers what they need to survive in the cruel world?

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