Plot: Teenager is sad because of things then other things happen
The Edge of Seventeen is a teen comedy drama based around Nadine Franklin, a teenager who has spent her life being bullied and is trying to deal with her family and social life consisting of her best and only friend Krista as well as attempting new romance .
In terms of comedy Edge of Seventeen works reasonably well, most of the jokes hit and Woody Harrelson takes a lot of the standout lines with his performance as the worn out but sympathetic teacher (think Mr Griffith in Easy A). Hayden Szeto also deserves a shout for his funny and likeable depiction of Erwin, a new romantic interest in Nadine’s class.
The drama works reasonably well too with the sad bits being sad and the happy being bits being happy. The romance is well done in its cute awkward and moderately realistic depiction of teen relationships without being too shoehorned into the plot.
There feels a real understanding of the youth of the characters as well in the way that the young people are portrayed. The film doesn’t for a minute disregard their problems because of their age, their issues are just as important and meaningful as anyone older. This makes the characters feel like people rather than, well, characters.
In case you are selectively blind this is going to be a bit with spoilers so if you don’t like spoilers this might not be the spoilery bit for you.
The death of Nadine’s father is handled excellently with the after-effects on both the lead character and her family constantly being pointed back to with the impact at no point ever feeling minimised. The dramatic impact of her friend and brothers relationship is also dealt with well allowing the viewer to understand the emotional distress this causes to Nadine.
There is however a scene that approaches sexual assault but (thankfully) avoids it, this felt reasonably out of place and significantly darker than a lot of the rest of the film and a jarring misstep. I just feel like I should mention it as this kind of thing can be distressing and people should know what they’re getting into, especially since people might not expect it from a YA movie such as this one.
Probably my biggest problem with The Edge of Seventeen is the love interest, the main character essentially seems to disregard the person she should obviously, according to film tropes anyway, be with. However she just goes back to him as soon as she realises the not-nice guy she was interested in for the whole film isn’t the nice guy she believed him to be. That didn’t really work for me as there was never any indication she actually liked the character she ends up with any more than before but has instead decided to settle for him when her first choice was no longer in the picture.
As teen comedies go Edge of Seventeen isn’t up there with the likes of Mean Girls or Easy A but is better than your average fare and manages a solid blend of drama and humour.