Review – The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

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You mean like, sixteen?

the-edge-of-seventeen-5890c4beae65aComing-of-age tales aren’t my best forte. That’s because they don’t exactly follow a structure that I like to see. It’s specifically difficult to review a movie that doesn’t really have any solid plot, but that doesn’t make them a bad movie.  The Edge of Seventeen, even from the trailers, didn’t seem to have any solid plotline, but what it did say – was that it’s been compared to some really classic comedies, which is honestly the main reason I decided to watch it. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Everyone knows that growing up is hard, and life is no easier for high school junior Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), who is already at peak awkwardness when her all-star older brother Darian (Blake Jenner) starts dating her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). All at once, Nadine feels more alone than ever, until the unexpected friendship of a thoughtful boy (Hayden Szeto) gives her a glimmer of hope that things just might not be so terrible after all. -IMDb

PEOPLE
★★★★★★★★★★

 

  1.  Good Acting: ★★
    • Unsurprisingly, coming-of-age films like this rely heavily on this category, which is why it’s basically the highest rated category on this list, at least in the general categories, that is. The acting in this movie is surprisingly good. Hailee Steinfeld has to specifically show an insane range of emotions in this film. Happy, sad, depressed, angry, psychotic, you name it, and she actually pulls off a majority of those emotions without fault.
    • Alongside Hailee is, in particular, Haley Lu Richardson, who kept reminding me of someone else, but that’s beside the point. She portrayed a character that was stuck in a difficult position as well, but she did that well. Let’s not forget about Kyra Sedgwick, Woody Harrelson, Blake Jenner, and even Hayden Szeto. Woo, that’s a lot of H names. They all did a great job portraying their characters. Two stars.
  2.  Good Characters: ★★
    • Good actors don’t necessarily mean good characters, but in this case, it does. The characters are diverse in their roles, and they all play a part, which I’ll get into in a minute. These characters are realistic in the most important ways you can think of. They’re real when it comes to their sarcastic and passive humor, as well as how they treat others. You want to scream at the screen when you’re watching until you realize that you’ve done the same dumb crap when you were younger. Two stars.
  3.  Good Casting: ★★
    • I’ve never heard of these characters, and even some of the actors I wasn’t familiar with, but I had this strange sensation while watching that these actors were these characters, and these characters were these actors. That could only really mean one thing – which is that this film had an excellent casting choice. No one else could have portrayed these characters, at least not in the same way they did…which was perfect. Two stars.
  4.  Good Importance: ★★
    • So, this was what I said I was going to get to later, about the characters all had a part in the film. You see, each person had a reason to be there. It wasn’t just one main character and two-dimensional side characters, each character had the amount of depth as if only one person’s job in pre-production was to craft most of the characters and their histories. Nadine is the main character, so she obviously deals with a majority of the things on screen, but other characters are just as important. Her brother isn’t just a jock that loves what he looks like and has a perfect life, his life goes deeper than that. Her mother isn’t just her mother, her life goes deeper than that. As does Krista, as does Erwin, and even the dang high school teacher. They all have a meaning to add to this film, and that makes it all better. Two stars.
  5.  Good chemistry: ★★
    • The chemistry in this film is absolutely perfect. Nadine’s relationship between her mother, her brother, her best friend, her teacher, Erwin, and Nick are all different and unique, and all make sense on a different level. You could even go deeper and start putting together the chemistry between different characters, and you’d be amazed at how well everyone works with each other. Two stars.

WRITING
★★★★★★★★★★

 

  1.  Good Dialogue: ★★
    • Another strength coming-of-age films tend to have is that unstoppable ability to write a scene. It usually has this independent vibe going on, and that’s also true here. The dialogue in The Edge of Seventeen is simply…interesting, to say the least. I’d have to say that the importance of speech falls down to Woody Harrelson’s role as the teacher. Harrelson’s wise-cracking and sarcastic wit mixed with his tendency to take the lead when need be made his character instantly memorable as the king of dialogue in this film. Two stars.
  2.  Good Balance: ★★
    • The balance for these types of movies are sometimes confusing, due to the structure of the thing. I commonly like to say that it’s the balance that makes the movie make sense. Too much focus on different characters, locations, or storylines can start to dilute the film and make it feel inconsistent and over convoluted. Those are usually the two elements that I focus on when thinking about balance, and that wasn’t found here…so I consider this film to be perfectly balanced. Two stars.
  3.  Good Story: ★★
    • I often don’t believe a coming-of-age film can really have a good story, because I often link plots, good guys, bad guys, and the basic structure we all know and love, to the story. That’s not entirely the case though, at least not for every movie. In this case, this is about a girl that feels like she’s drowning because her life, and the lifes of those around her, is changing…which can be scary. That’s a good story. Two stars.
  4.  Original: ★★
    • Have we seen this type of movie before that focuses on life changes and things of the nature? Oh, absolutely, but that doesn’t make The Edge of Seventeen unoriginal. On the contrary, I find this movie to be quite a breath of fresh air, and yes, original. Two stars.
  5.  Interesting: ★★
    • Yes, this movie is interesting. Heck, it might be the most interesting coming-of-age film I’ve ever seen. Why? Because it had characters that I could invest in. Character problems that I connect with. Plus, the movie opens up with a scene that’s sure to interest you enough from the get-go. Two stars.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES
★★★★★★★★☆☆

 

  1.  Visuals: ★★
    • The visuals in these type of movies have more to do with beautiful looking scenes due to photography. It’s simply a nice and calming feeling to watch The Edge of Seventeen because it honestly has some nice-looking shots.  No, not every single shot is worth mentioning, but the amount of scenes they do have that look great…well…look great. Two stars.
  2.  Directing: ★★
    • In my honest opinion, I don’t think this film would be a very difficult movie to film or even a movie that would take forever to shoot. That’s not saying she did anything wrong because the movie feels amazing when watching. She was able to capture the sheer essence of being human on a really wide scale in an extremely effective manner. Two stars.
  3.  Editing: ★★
    • The same goes for editing as directing actually, there’s some really nicely stitched together scenes in this film.
  4.  Advertisement: ★☆
    • Okay, as I’ll mention below, in the specialty categories, I did feel a little letdown. The advertisements were never incredibly clear about what was going to happen in this movie, but it definitely seemed like romance was going to be a big part of it, and it was…just not in a way that we actually witnessed fully. So for that reason alone, I’ll give this one star.
  5.  Music: ★☆
    • For the music, nothing really stood out for me, so that’s why I’m giving this one star. Nothing great, nothing terrible. Just plain ol’ music.

NARRATIVE ARC
★★★★★★★★★☆

 

  1.  Introduction: ★★
    • The introduction to this film was quite typical. Just had two girls that are best friends, who do everything together, and really…that’s about it, haha. Two stars.
  2.  Inciting Incident/Crossing the Threshold: ★★
    • I wasn’t sure if this movie was going to have an inciting incident or a moment of crossing the threshold or not, but it certainly did. The inciting incident came down to when Nadine’s best friend started dating Nadine’s  brother, and the threshold came when Nadine decided that was a good time to end their friendship, henceforth…creating havoc everywhere she went. Two stars.
  3.  Obstacles: ★★
    • I consider this movie to sort of be like…Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, because that’s basically what’s happening. Her life goes from bad to worse in every imaginable way, and I’d absolutely consider these obstacles. Two stars.
  4.  Epiphany/Climax: ★☆
    • This would be the only part of the narrative arc that I’d say is sort of missing. It’s there, but it’s not. That’s one part of coming-of-age that I don’t exactly like, they sometimes can be anticlimactic. There is a tipping point, but the tipping point doesn’t truly feel like the end.. So while there is technically a climax, I thought it was a little dull, so one star for that.
  5.  Falling Action: ★★
    • On the other hand, the falling action was perfect. Obviously, I can’t talk about the ending of the movie, but things settle down in a satisfactory way. Two stars.

OVERALL ENTERTAINMENT
★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

 

  1.  Rewatchability: ★★
    • Absolutely, I’d watch this movie again, I might even seek it out in order to see it again. Maybe not right away, but I could see that. Two stars.
  2.  Fun: ★
    • Is it fun? Well, in a matter of speaking, yes. Especially when you’re talking about Woody Harrelson’s role in everything, but in general, this isn’t really supposed to be a “fun” movie, so take that as you will. One star.
  3.  Impulse to buy it: ★☆
    • Again, I could see myself buying this movie. No, I don’t think I’d really go out and seek the thing or put it on a shopping list. I see myself buying it if I’m shopping, see it on a shelf and say, “Oh, yeah!”, or if it’s on sale or something, I wouldn’t mind owning it, it just has to be the right occasion.
  4.  Impulse to talk to someone about it:
    • That being said, nothing really gave me an impulse to talk to anyone about the movie. No time soon will I be like, “Dude, you have got to go watch this movie, it’s so good!”, because that’s not really the impression it left me, so…no, I don’t consider this talk-worthy.
  5.  Sucks the audience in: ★☆
    • The Edge of Seventeen sucks the audience in a little at certain times. The film as a whole doesn’t really suck you in.  One star.

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COMING-OF-AGE
★★★★★★★★★★

 

Now, we’re onto our specialty categories, specifically tailored for The Edge of SeventeenFirst category up is coming-of-age, which this film certainly is. But it’s more than that. When I give this as a category, I want something more. This is getting the full ten stars because it was a good coming-of-age tale, which I find as more of a rarity when it comes to movies. I liked the characters, I liked the feel of the movie, I practically liked everything about it, really.

ROMANCE
★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

 

I almost gave this no stars. The trailer and IMDb description both just gave me the sensation that romance was going to be a substantial part of this movie, and it’s really, really not. While it is there in a matter of speaking, it’s so subtle that you can hardly tell. That being said, I really liked what little of it there was, so I have to at least reward this category with half points. Five stars.

INSTANT CLASSIC?
★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

 

Even though this movie has all of the elements associated with those classic comedies the trailers insisted people compare this movie to, I think it felt more modern and less of an instant classic.  Five stars here.

DRAMEDY
★★★★★★★★★★

 

But, oh, is this movie a dramedy. Full on drama/comedy, in all the right ways.  This might even make people cry in certain spots, not that I’ve really understood that. Anyway, if anything, the main genre of this film would be dramedy, once they officially make that a real genre. Ten stars.

HALFWAY DECENT
★★★★★★★★★★

 

This, of course, is a category I add to my specialty categories because as I like to say, I’m a kind enough critic to know that if a movie is halfway decent in the way they do things. If the movie looks nice and feels like they put a lot of effort in, I need to reward that in general – and this is how I do it. Thankfully, The Edge of Seventeen is indeed decent enough to warrant another ten points.

RATING: 82/100

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