It’s not going to win the box office weekend.
It’s not going to be nominated for any major awards.
It’s not going to break any new ground in cinema.
But it doesn’t have to.
Edge of Seventeen was a difficult movie to accurately review. The film itself was a decent outing but there were subtle moments that occurred with the protagonist and her family/friends that quietly spoke to me more than other ones that were clearly trying to pull a heartstring. I’m referring to specific little things that caused my mind to venture back in time when I was Nadine’s age and attempting to tackle similar problems, but ultimately failing. This proves to be a double-edged sword because as you are watching Nadine navigate the minefield that are her teenage years and you can’t help but be frustrated at some of the illogical decisions she makes, however, I caught myself many times sitting back in my chair having to remind myself:
I was that person.
I made some of those same dumb decisions.
It’s because of these times that I felt a kindred understanding of the characters I was seeing try and function within the realm of getting older, one they didn’t ask for yet were forced to endure.
I know at this point in the review I’m getting dangerously close to sounding just as overly-dramatic as the teenagers I’m writing about, but I truly felt a sense of connection to the characters after seeing this movie. That is a strong testimony for how solid and accurate the script nails being a teenager and going through the daily self-centered struggles. There is a moment (actually several) where Nadine discovers that the world does not in fact revolve around her despite being told many times over by those closest to her. But even though you can see this epiphany coming a mile away you still empathize with her because we have all had that moment (some of us have yet to…but it’s coming) and to see it play out in real time onscreen just took me back to that time when I was trying to discover what was right and wrong and how to even function around other people. Edge of Seventeen tackles these issues head first and is magnificent in it’s execution of them. However, that doesn’t give it a complete pass of some of its shortcomings. Despite having a strong script, there were still times that I felt like I was watching a director’s/producer’s/writer’s first film, which actually is true in this case as this is writer/producer/director Kelly Fremon Craig’s first full-length feature. Taking that into account, I think she did a marvelous job in capturing the essence of what a teenager goes through on a daily basis to the point where females can directly relate to Nadine’s experiences, but males can still pick out certain moments where they were in the exact same boat…which they then fell out of awkwardly in a last ditch effort to impress someone.
If there is one recurring theme that I took away from this movie was that everything you do does not always matter to someone else. Sure, you can be important to others that may care about you, but in truth, everyone else is suffering or going through something at the same time as you and it’s your job to recognize that and find those that can make you stronger through those moments in time. If I could take a second theme, it would be that being a teenager is weird. It just is. There is all of this self-imposed pressure put upon you alongside expectations from friends and family while also trying to figure out who you are or what you’re interested in with life to the extent it could drive you crazy. Edge of Seventeen gives screen time to all of these insecurities but does so in a way where it doesn’t weigh the viewer down, but displays them in an almost twisted form of love-letter written as an ode to teenage angst that helped forge the peopel we are now. The growth that Nadine experiences from the beginning to the end of the movie is perfect because again, it’s accurate. There is not this amazing transformation from girl to woman that has suddenly figured out all of her issues, but more so there is an insecure teenager who is treading water in life to the point where she starts to go under only for a hand to reach out and grab her. At the film’s resolution there are tiny rays of hope poking through to Nadine that shows her life isn’t that bad if you can just find people you trust to join you. The struggle of life never fades. The trick is finding 1-2 people to go along with you in order to make it easier to manage.
Edge of Seventeen: 3 GARYS