‘The Edge of Seventeen’ transcends teen genre, offers honest portrayal


A still of Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson in ‘The Edge of Seventeen.’ Harrelson portrays Steinfeld’s sarcastic yet caring history teacher. Image source: edgeof17.movie

If you believe that enjoyable coming-of-age dramas have disappeared over the last few years, well, you may be right. Between vampires and werewolves, the genre has not exactly been promising.

However, moviegoers now have something to look forward to. Earlier this month, “The Edge of Seventeen” was released and will move and entertain audiences around the world.

Written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, the film stars Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, Haley Lu Richardson, Hayden Szeto and Blake Jenner.

Steinfeld portrays Nadine, an awkward teenager who has been an outsider throughout high school, living with her self-absorbed and completely oblivious mother [Sedgwick]. Her older brother Darian [Jenner] is handsome, smart, athletic and the overall favorite child.

While Nadine is rightfully frustrated with her life both at home and at school, her one saving grace is her longtime best friend, Krista [Richardson] — until she begins dating Nadine’s brother.

With no one left to turn to, Nadine begins venting to her sardonic history teacher [Harrelson], who acts as her mentor and reluctant listener. Even though he must cope with some struggles of his own, he lends a sympathetic, though often sarcastic, ear to Nadine.

Steinfeld gives one of her strongest performances yet and easily appeals to the audience’s sense of compassion, convincing them to root for her success from the beginning.

While she and Harrelson have a brilliant dynamic together, which provides some much-needed comedic relief, the chemistry between Steinfeld and Szeto — who portrays a shy, thoughtful boy that Nadine forms an unexpected friendship with — ultimately steals the show.

The supporting actors in “The Edge of Seventeen” compliment Steinfeld beautifully, and all of their characters are incredibly complex, an aspect seldom seen in the teen movie genre.

At first glance, while it may seem that Darian is the “Golden Boy,” Krista is the scheming best friend and Nadine’s history teacher is a jaded, indifferent middle-aged man, these characters offer so much more than initially meets the eye.

Although the movie does not include any unexpected plot twists and merely focuses on the daily struggles of a teenager, that straightforwardness and simplicity are exactly what make it so appealing.

The film charms the audience with its honest portrayal of complex teen angst in today’s world. While the plot includes some texting mishaps, the world of social media does not take over the entire movie as it does in some teen dramas — it plays only a small role in Nadine’s harsh reality. 

“The Edge of Seventeen” is guaranteed make audiences laugh and cry at the same time, and it is one of the best films released this year. It’s a keeper — a sad keeper, but a good one.

Currently, this film is playing in several theaters throughout Los Angeles, including Pacific Theaters at The Grove and AMC Century City 15. The film is rated R for sexual content, language and drinking.

  • Story
  • Acting
  • Technical Quality
  • Enjoyment
  • Impact


Although “The Edge of Seventeen” has a significant impact on the audience, the story is that of a typical teenager. Ultimately, though, that is exactly what makes the film so appealing to teenagers and adults alike.