In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It made me care about superficial, childish, self imposed problems.”
“There are two types of people in the world: The people who naturally excel at life. And the people who hope all those people die in a big explosion.”
A year or so ago, I wrote about the movie The Diary of a Teenage Girl, and I said, “It’s a story so foreign to me and my teenage years, but it’s told and acted in a way that makes it seem somehow relatable.” A year later, I don’t remember any of the specifics that made me find that movie so relatable at the time. What I do remember are the more sensationalistic, button pushing plot points, lines of dialogue and images. And now, as a fading memory, The Diary of Teenage Girl seems kind of cheap and obvious, especially after watching The Edge of Seventeen.
Since her earliest years at school, Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) has been an outcast. While her older brother (Blake Jenner as Darian) has always been good looking, popular and a master of everything he attempts, Nadine has only ever found solace in two people, her father, and her best friend since grade two, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). When her father dies in her early teens, Krista becomes even more vital to Nadine’s life.
A few years later, even that support system is taken away when Krista hooks up with Darian. With a mother (Kyra Sedgwick) who has never understood her at home, and a teacher (a movie stealing Woody Harrelson as Mr Bruner) the closest thing to a friend at school, Nadine spirals out of control, doing her best to alienate everyone in her path. Including the geekily charming Erwin (Hayden Szeto), who adorably stumbles over his crush on Nadine every time she’s in his vicinity.
Nadine is selfish and self absorbed and irrational and her own worst enemy. Besides losing her father at such a young age, the rest of Nadine’s problems are superficial and childish and for the most part, completely of her own making. The beauty of The Edge of Seventeen is that it still made me sympathise with Nadine’s self absorbed irrationality. It still made me care about her superficial, childish, self imposed problems like I wasn’t an adult with the hindsight to immediately recognise how superficial, childish and self imposed her problems were.
Even better than all of that, is the team effort that makes this movie accomplish it all. Hailee Steinfeld is a fantastic actor who brings a likeable vulnerability to Nadine, even at her most frustrating. Sedgwyck, Richardson, Jenner and Szeto all totally sell their own polarising emotions in regards to this girl who they all care about in their own distinct ways, despite her giving them so many reasons not to. And the direction and screenplay of Kelly Fremon Craig craft this story in a way that makes all of this irresistibly relatable.
If that was everything The Edge of Seventeen had to offer, it would be a great movie. But I haven’t even really highlighted the best bit yet… Woody Harrelson. He is the clear highlight of the trailer, and the full performance doubles down on that, getting funnier, sweeter and more affecting with every scene he’s in.