How good are teen movies!? I think I'd be safe in saying that a large percentage of my favourite movies of all time are teen-based flicks. Why? Most likely because I was a teenager when I watched them, but also because they're just plain awesome. I laughed when they laughed, I cried when they cried. It was a monkey see, monkey do type situation. True, their on-screen plights never quite reached my own - I never viewed losing my virginity as an accomplishment or any sort of goal, and here in Australia we don't have Prom. But still, on some level, they spoke to me. My big screen heroes were awkward, shy yet outgoing, fun, funny, full of anxieties and had complicated relationships with their friends and family, just like me. But most importantly, they knew that everything they felt and all the pain they experienced was suffered by them and them alone. No one knew what they were going through, could possibly understand, and at the end of the day they were alone... except at the end of the movie when they're finally emotionally rescued by someone and everything resolves itself. Ahhhh, I love teen movies so much! Now let's meet the film that is going to put all the 'American Pies' and 'Sex Drives' to shame. (I'm sorry 'American Pie' and 'Sex Drive', I still love you!)
Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld, 'Pitch Perfect 2') never felt normal or understood by anyone except her dad and her only friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson, 'The Bronze'). But by the time Nadine reaches the ripe age of 17, her dad has tragically passed away and to top it all off Krista has unexpectedly started dating her older brother Darian (Blake Jenner, 'Everybody Wants Some!!'). Daily, Nadine turns to her only other confidant, her history teacher Mr Bruner (Woody Harrelson, 'The Hunger Games' series) who chooses their moments together to take her down a peg and dryly let her know his distaste for her. So while her mum is a basket case and her BFF is too busy making out with her brother, Nadine contends with a crush on a bad boy, a good guy with a crush on her and her spiralling emotional turmoils.
I cannot and I will not fault this film.
Now how do I put this delicately...? I love this movie! I've made no secret in the past of my complete and utter obsession and devotion to John Hughes. Well, his legacy is well and truly alive here. Writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig ('Post Grad') is making her directorial debut here with 'The Edge of Seventeen' and wow, what a voice. The undoubted success and uniqueness of this film is that a female has written the female voice. There's no interpreting here, Fremon Craig has lived, breathed and been Nadine and the authenticity is palpable.
'The Edge of Seventeen' is so funny and so heartbreaking all at once. The cast is 100% pitch-perfect, with Steinfeld even being awarded with a Golden Globe nomination for her efforts. For the first time in I cannot tell you how long, I completely experienced a film. I cried because I felt sadness and I laughed because it was genuinely funny and I smiled because there was joy. I cannot and I will not fault this film. If my face wasn't so tear-stained and if I hadn't feared not being invited back again I would have stood up, applauded until my hands were raw and screamed "Bravo!" until my throat was horse at the end of my screening.
If you are seventeen, have once been seventeen or one day are going to be seventeen - boy or girl - this film is not to be missed. And Kelly Fremon Craig, I cannot wait to see what you do next.