Hailee Steinfeld might seem like an odd choice for the role of high school outcast. Granted, she’s an excellent actor – and an actual teenager, a rarity in teen films – but an Oscar-nominated, gorgeous pop star doesn’t, on the face of things, look like someone who’d difficulty fitting into secondary school.
Ah, but that’s where you’d be wrong! The Edge of Seventeen understands that, to paraphrase Shakespeare, some invite social pariah status and others have it thrust upon them. Nadine, Steinfeld’s character in the film, is the former, actively rejecting intimacy or amity with anyone beyond her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). And when Krista hooks up with Nadine’s impossibly-attractive brother (Blake Jenner), even that relationship isn’t safe from self-sabotage.
Kelly Fremon Craig’s directorial debut is an unusually insightful teen film, that understands that it’s not just other teenagers who were jerks in high school. Steinfeld is excellent in the lead, naturally, but I must acknowledge the superlative supporting work of the infatuated Hayden Szeto.
While the film suffers from my perennial pet peeve of essentially retrofitting modern technology onto a ‘90s scenario – complete with a cautionary tale about social media – it’s too entertaining and thoughtful to care too much.
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