The Edge of Seventeen is the modern coming of age film that we’ve all been patiently waiting for. The film follows Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), a rebellious high schooler who doesn’t quite fit in, only having her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) to lean on. But when Krista starts dating Nadie’s golden-boy older brother, their friendship starts to crumble. The film showcases the awkwardness and struggles that all high schoolers deal with without overdramatizing anything. In fact, the film’s star, Hailee Steinfeld, was drawn to the film for this exact reason.
“I don’t feel like our generation has had that movie where we can watch it and feel like we’re not alone,” Steinfeld states. “I remember reading this script and feeling like I’d experienced so much of what this character has gone through,” instantly drawing her into the project. She felt attached to the film in the sense she felt she’d “gone through so much of what this character has gone through, maybe not exactly, but to an extent. We have to go to this hell hole we call school where we don’t fit in” and try to navigate our way through. The Edge of Seventeen doesn’t “blow things out of proportion” or romanticize situations in any way. The film features real, organic interactions and relationships that teens naturally have.
Throughout the film Nadine always turns to her laid-back history teacher, Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson), revealing a unique bond between the two. “He was so much fun,” Steinfeld gushes, speaking about working with Woody. “I think we personally found this timing and this banter that we had and were able to bring that to the screen.” Steinfeld says that the film’s director, Kelly Freeman Craig, wrote such an incredible script that “you almost don’t have to do very much,” and their chemistry flowed naturally.
The film has a millennial feel with the aspect of social media, present in teenagers’ day-to-day lives. “The social media aspect in this film was so real. It’s not overdone,” Steinfeld admits. The film features the horror of sending the wrong text to a crush and even agonizing over an impending Facebook friend request. Though these are such small grievances in one’s life, they seem like the end of the world to a teenager. This generation is centered around social media and “validation through a number of followers. With some movies, it’s superficial in some ways or it’s not real. This film is an honest telling of being a teenager and growing up.”
Being a teenager herself, Steinfeld knows first hand what it’s like growing up in this time, and how brutal teen life can be. The Oscar nominee received a lot of freedom from the director to keep the film true to life. “Very early on in the process, Kelly, one of the first things she said was, if anything at any point doesn’t feel real, tell me or do whatever it is that you feel you would do or say in the moment. Having that much freedom from your director, as an actor, is like a dream and a half,” the star explains. She felt a huge level of trust from the crew being “able to improvise and find it,” if a moment did not feel genuine.
“I watch this movie and I wish I could tell Nadine and I wish I could tell myself that it really is going to be okay,” Steinfeld replies, upon being asked what she learned most from the film. “Nadine feels like she is not accepted for who she is,” which is a common feeling for most teenagers. “It’s just a time in our life,” a moment that is not forever. “We walk into high school and we walk out as a different person, and then our life starts,” the 19 year-old points out. Once Nadine realizes “that it’s all just a moment in time” and that she is worthy of being loved, she finds Erwin. “She finds somebody that is like equally as cool as her and they have this connection. I think finding that somebody and finding that light” can be all one needs to turn their life around.
For anyone who has ever been a teenager, The Edge of Seventeen is a must see film. It takes the viewer on a roller coaster of emotions ranging from rolling on the floor laughing, to one’s eyes welling up with tears. This film is a breath of fresh air that this generation needs, that can offer many a sigh of relief and a feeling of being understood.
The coming of age film opens in theaters on November 18.