Mount St. Joseph University

Movie Review: The Edge of Seventeen

Dateline: student newspaper

By: Michael Mullin

Why does this remind me of a John Hughes film?

“There are two types of people in this world. The kind that naturally excel at life, and the people that wish those people would get blown up in an explosion.” Nadine is a troubled high school teen literally on the edge of 17 and trying to find hope in her world. Her life started off troubling and unfortunate, but this isn’t where the problems end.

The film starts off with Nadine who is played by and whose life is narrated by up an coming actress, Hailee Steinfeld. She’s a young girl who in preschool and grade school had zero friends. She and her mother, who is played by Kyra Sedgwick, don’t get long. The very first friend that Nadine has is her father. Until one day she meets a little girl named Krista, who turns out to be one of the most accepting people she’s ever met. Nadine and Krista, who is played by Haley Lu Richardson, become best friends, always together, with no separation between the two. They’re like two peas in a pod. They go through puberty together, they talk about boys together and they even go through hardships together.

Their friendship grows even stronger after Nadine’s father’s death and up until high school, their relationship is as strong as it could ever be. However, when Krista begins to find Nadine’s brother Darian (Blake Jenner) attractive, this is where the story begins to evolve and to turn. One of the better relationships that is formed during the film, possibly even better than Nadine and Krista’s, is the relationship that Nadine forcefully pushes on her history teacher Mr. Bruner.

If you’ve seen the previews for this film then you’ll realize that one of the first things we hear from Nadine is, “I don't want to take up too much of your time but I'm going to kill myself. I just thought that an adult should know.” Most of the comedy that flows out of this future cult classic is perpetuated from the dynamic and sometimes volatile relation between the two. Mr. Bruner’s character is one of my favorite in the entire film, and I believe the reason for this is because of who plays Mr. Bruner. Woody Harrelson turns Mr. Bruner into the teacher or professor any student wishes they had. Harrelson’s remarkable ability to make even the most depressing situation in the film shine funny allows the film to produce a little light humor to ease into its greatness as a teaching mechanism. That mechanism and life lesson is that sometimes when things go wrong and you’re feeling down and you feel like you world is absolutely ending, you just have to laugh a little and remember life goes on, and that it’s going to be ok.

I’m not going to delve into the film’s plot any deeper than I already have because I think you need to see it for yourself, but let’s just say that self-realization is the key to the entire story. You’ll have to figure out what that means to Nadine later on when you’re snacking on some popcorn and a soda. One of the best lines of the film is given by Nadine towards the end of the movie where she says, “You know, ever since we were little, I would get this feeling like... Like I'm floating outside of my body, looking down at myself... And I hate what I see... How I'm acting, the way I sound. And I don't know how to change it. And I'm so scared... That the feeling is never gonna go away.”

I use this quote to explain a point about mental illness and depression when it comes to teenagers and even and sometimes more often so, college students everywhere. When this quote is given in the film, you feel for Nadine. You understand her pain. You know what she’s going through. One of the things that I was personally thinking about after I watched this film is that this is part of the problem with the understanding of mental health in general. There are always films that are made about a particular someone struggling with some type of mental handicap. In this case, it turns out to be a 17-year-old girl named Nadine. We take films about mental illness for granted because our relationship with the character is so personal. I began to think about all of the people that went to school with Nadine, and even her own friends. How long did they know that she wasn’t doing well? How long did it take Krista to realize how vulnerable Nadine was? Even Nadine’s own brother, or mother for that matter, barely realizes what she’s really going through.

The Edge of Seventeen is a hard movie to watch because of how accurate it is about how to be a teen in this day and age. It’s a sad movie to watch, really. This is part of the reason why I loved it so much and why I connected with Nadine as a person. I personally am an old soul. I love old movies, old music, old cars, old clothes and even yes, older and much wiser people. One of the most moving quotes in the film comes from Nadine when she speaks freely, as usual, with Mr. Bruner and says, “You know what? I'm gonna go ahead, and I'm gonna tell you the real reason I'm having my lunch with you today. You see, I don't really have any friends, at the moment, and, to be completely honest with you, I'm not interested. At all. My entire generation is a bunch of mouth breathers. They literally have a seizure if you take their phone away for a second, they can't communicate without emojis, and they actually think that the world wants to know that they are ‘eating a taco, exclamation point, smiley face, smiley face,’ like we give a fuck… I... am an old soul. I like old music, and old movies, and even old people. I have nothing in common with the people out there, and they have nothing in common with me.”  This will, for you old souls like me out there, explain everything you need to know about the kind of person Nadine is.

The Edge of Seventeen is a great film. It reminds me of The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, and even Valley Girl. It’s one of those films that will eventually turn into a cult classic as time goes on. It will be appreciated long after its success in the theatres is finished.