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EDGE OF SEVENTEEN – Some Kind Of Wonderful

edgeofseveteen

Directed by Kelly Fremon Craig
Starring Hailee Stanfield, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson

According to Nadine (Hailee Stanfield) there are two kinds of people in the world; those that radiate natural confidence and will excel at life, and those that wish the first kind would die in a huge explosion. She is the second type, and quite sarcastically vocal about it.

Still as long as she has one good friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), high school is not completely unbearable….almost. However when Krista starts dating Nadine’s brother (Blake Jenner), one of those excel in life types, their friendship and Nadine’s life hits the rocks.

There is more than a passing nod here to the classic John Hughes teen comedy-drama films of the 80s (even including Spandau Ballet in the soundtrack), and the horde of successors of varying quality that stretched into the 90s. Yet The Edge Of Seventeen is certainly its own exquisitely crafted piece of art. It may pay tribute to what has gone before, but it is very much of the time, and new. Maybe it can get away with this due to the nature of cyclic fashion, with 80s and 90s retro rearing its ugly head in the twenty-first century, but it is more than just that. Edge Of Seventeen is intelligent scripting that speaks to a universal disaffection experienced by youth. It captures the struggle in forging your own adult identity while breaking away from the confines of childhood, but at the same time creating an image that is acceptable to your social peers (even if you consider yourself an outsider). Add to that a cocktail of hormones, the stress of determining your future career, homework, the opposite sex, and arguing with your family – and you have the standard bundle of nerves that is teenage life.

We relate to Nadine, because she is such a well realised character. The background is there in the script, her character has back story and personality, but Hailee Stanfield manages to bring it to life. Awkward, stumbling, embarrassing life. We see why she is frustrated, even as we realise how selfish she is being, such is the charisma Stanfield brings to the task. From her amusing opening diatribe, to the emotional crux of the film, we are engaged by Nadine following her through her self discovery and emotional growth.

Then there is Woody Harrelson. Bitter, sarcastic, seemingly indifferent Woody Harrelson (which according to the Hunger Games, is the best Woody to have as a mentor). Here he comes close to stealing the show, playing Nadine’s teacher. The scenes between Stanfield and Harrelson are certainly the highlight, as they trade sarcastic and cynical barbs, in an amusing student teacher relationship.

Excellent dialogue delivered by a strong cast, make this a really great teen comedy drama with a smart and simple message. Director Kelly Fremon Craig effortlessly recreates the glory days of the 1980s teen romances, but bring it (along with everything the genre has learned upon the way) into the age of social media.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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