‘Edge of Seventeen’ makes up for cliche plot with humor

Maggie Smith

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After sending an embarrassingly explicit message to a crush, Nadine Byrd, played by Hailee Steinfeld, takes the obvious next step. She tells her teacher, Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson), about the incident, who reads the message carefully, pauses, looks up at Nadine’s terrified face, then slowly says, “You need to watch out for run-on sentences.”

This sort of edgy humor in “The Edge of Seventeen” saves it from being a typical coming-of-age film, even if the plot may read like one.

“The Edge of Seventeen” also does a great job of portraying Nadine’s anger and frustration, something not usually done authentically for teenage girls in movies. While many other high school films feature overly comedic or cruel teenage girls facing obstacles, Steinfeld’s performance and the screenplay made Nadine’s feelings and actions very relatable.

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Known for her roles in “Pitch Perfect 2,” “True Grit,” and “Romeo and Juliet,” Steinfeld is the perfect fit to play Nadine. Her performance carries the audience through Nadine’s tumultuous journey, from family tragedy to first dates and high school parties.

Steinfeld’s chemistry with the other characters made the film enjoyable to watch all the way through, and made the unrealistically dramatic events that are commonplace in teen movies believable.

Nadine’s use of humor, as well as many other characters’, is what makes the movie stand out. Even in the darkest scenes, a combination of dialogue and the acting makes the audience laugh out loud.

The characters also lift the movie out of the cliché teen movie plotlines. Even the most commonplace archetypes, such as the “nerd” who has a crush on the oblivious protagonist, are  played out in a humorous and still-refreshing way.

Harrelson stands out in his role as Mr. Bruner, Nadine’s teacher and trusted friend. While the dynamic between the two has emotionally poignant undertones, even in serious times, their conversations are witty and enjoyable to watch.

Aside from Mr. Bruner, there were few characters that had particularly memorable dynamics with Nadine. While the chemistry was still good, more of the supporting characters’ personalities could have been amped up to match the dynamic of Steinfeld and Harrelson, without taking away from Nadine’s magnitude.

The relationship between Nadine and her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) did little more than add a plot point or two. Richardson’s character and Nadine could have had a more natural dynamic that would have added to both of their character’s stories, but the relationship did not reach its potential in the movie.

Things go wrong for Nadine over and over again, which likens it to other typical teen comedies, but in “The Edge of Seventeen,” the multitude of misadventures come so quickly and are so varied that it feels like there’s no clear story arc.

However, the climax at the end does encapsulate the drama Nadine has endured throughout the movie. Many issues brought up in the movie are resolved, and underlying elements of the plot and characters are revealed, bringing a nice resolution.

Additionally, much of the plot is extremely predictable. Nadine’s realization of the importance of others’ perspectives by the end of the movie can be seen from a mile away.

While her character is self-centered and dramatic, Steinfeld’s acting gets the viewer to root for Nadine and put themselves in her shoes.

Every viewer, will be able to relate to at least one part of the plot, from family tragedy, crushes on bad-boy upperclassmen, or frustration with parents and siblings.

While it doesn’t necessarily deserve critical acclaim, “The Edge of Seventeen” is a great movie to watch with either family or friends on a fun occasion.