Outside of her high school on a sunny day, Nadine spots her brother Darian walking nearby with some classmates. “Look at that stupid shirt my brother's wearing,” Nadine tells her best friend Krista. “It screams: I have a body complex worse than a girl's.” She pauses for a fraction of a second, then notes with outrage, “You can see his nipples!”
Nadine is upset over her brother's perfectly ordinary shirt because she is perpetually annoyed at her brother. He was the golden child when they were kids and now he's a polite, popular, good looking athlete. How obnoxious is that?
Like The Perks of Being a Wallflower,
Many of the film's best exchanges come between Nadine and her history teacher/reluctant mentor Mr. Bruner. Woody Harrelson plays the low-key educator with considerable skill. Mr. Bruner cares but goes to great lengths to avoid revealing that fact. His default presentation style is sarcasm drizzled with withering dismissals. When Nadine presents a suicide note to him (“I thought an adult should know”) he critiques her sentence structure. Like Steinfeld's Nadine, Harrelson's Mr. Bruner resides perilously close to Obnoxious City, USA, but the veteran actor modulates his near-monotone just enough to keep him on the sympathetic side.
Nadine's best friend is Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), who avoids second banana blandness by displaying a strong backbone and a sense of decency that holds up well when under attack. Perfect brother Darian is played by Blake Jenner (“Everybody Wants Some!”), who is also good at playing positive without getting annoying. Nadine would disagree. She is shocked beyond belief when Krisa and Darian become a couple. How dare they!
With her best friend banished from her life – she's probably off somewhere touching her brother's nipples! – Nadine realizes she has no allies. She can't talk to Mom (Kyra Sedgwick, in a well-layered performance); things haven't been right with her since Nadine's dad died of a heart attack. She can only babble to Mr. Bruner so long before he shoos her away.
But wait … a classmate named Erwin (Hayden Szeto, quite
The trick for writers of coming-of-age stories is trying to sound authentic. Juno failed. I loved that film and its charismatic lead character, but she never sounded like a real kid, she always sounded like a very clever screenwriter in the body of a teen.
The Edge of Seventeen feels closer to genuine. There are pauses, welcome
The Edge of Seventeen is sexually frank. It's funny, involving and touching in nice doses. Plus it stars Hailee Steinfeld and features our longtime