In one of the biggest surprises of the year The Edge of Seventeen delivers unanticipated laughs, insights into teenage angst, and genuine moments of emotional clarity. It is one of the best teen movies of this decade and one of the best films of 2016.
The Edge of Seventeen was written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig and she should be commended for both, especially the writing. Though, the way she draws out the performances and chemistry of Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson is praiseworthy.
The performance that Steinfeld gives in the lead role is off-the-charts fantastic. Her nuanced depiction of the life of a teenage girl as both awkward and overdramatic and funny and tragic is the high point of an already amazing career.
Woody Harrelson as a bored history teacher proves that there is not a better character-actor sidekick, especially and remarkably for young leading ladies. He is like a sparring partner that always gets a few shots in against the champ. Kyra Sedgwick is also particularly good as Steinfeld’s pressured, stressed mother.
Unfortunately this film isn’t getting enough attention. It’s not without its inessential scenes, poorly casted characters, and time-capsule moments—common tropes most teen movies can’t seem to shed—but it is too funny and the acting is too good for it to have fewer viewers than the fantasy movies aimed at the same demographic. Like all good teen movies The Edge of Seventeen is about life on the cusp and is just as enjoyable and life-affirming for adults.