THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN. Top-tier coming-of-age film

The Edge of Seventeen is a true standout in the coming-of-age genre.

Karol Barzowski

11 July 2024

edge of seventeen

The Edge of Seventeen tells the story of Nadine—a teenager who hates her life. A few years earlier, she experienced trauma due to her father’s death. She doesn’t get along with her mother, who suffers from bipolar disorder, nor with her brother, a handsome and athletic school star they both attend. Nadine always felt overshadowed by him, but she never really cared about popularity. She has little in common with her peers—she is an old soul who doesn’t fit into the school community. During breaks, she often talks to her seemingly bored teacher rather than her classmates.

Perhaps Nadine is exaggerating her problems, perhaps she is feeling sorry for herself, but on the other hand, her attitude is easy to understand. She admits that the only thing that has gone well for her is her lifelong friendship with Krista. But then something unexpected happens. Krista falls in love (mutually) with Darian, Nadine’s brother. For Nadine, this is a real tragedy—she feels abandoned and betrayed. Her life, which she was never satisfied with, falls apart.

edge of seventeen

This production is a top-tier coming-of-age film. It will appeal not only to young people but also to much older viewers. Director Kelly Fremon had previously made the weak “Post Grad” – it was hard to expect something exceptional from her. And yet, The Edge of Seventeen is a true standout in the coming-of-age genre. Like other best examples of this genre, it will appeal not only to young people but also to much older viewers. It’s easy to identify with the main character—after all, who among us hasn’t felt “misfit,” who hasn’t thought that their world was falling apart? I generally miss high school, but after this movie, I concluded that I wouldn’t want to go through that period again.

It’s a wise story that touches on more than just easy and pleasant topics while also providing a huge dose of humor. The jokes are fresh, genuinely funny, and the dialogues don’t sound scripted. A big advantage of the film is that all the characters seem real—when they speak, you believe their words; it seems as if in real life, such a person could behave similarly. It’s not without reason that the production received an R rating. Don’t think that when Nadine feels she’s had enough of everything, she yells, “Gosh darn it!”

edge of seventeen

The film’s honesty is largely due to the actors. The supporting cast does a great job, led by the reliable Woody Harrelson and the charming almost-debutant Hayden Szeto. But there is one star here, and it’s Hailee Steinfeld. The Edge of Seventeen is her great success and proof that her talent hasn’t faded since “True Grit.” In my opinion, she could easily have been nominated for an Oscar for this performance.

Such good youth films are truly rare. I haven’t seen anything better in a long time. The creators perfectly balanced drama with comedy, a youth story with universal themes, pure entertainment with a moral, and so on and so forth. I think John Hughes would have only warm words to say about this film. The screenplay is outstanding—thoughtful and original, yet not trying too hard to be original. The whole thing feels light and unpretentious. There may be many youth productions made in Hollywood, but such good ones are truly rare. The Edge of Seventeen intrigued me from the first trailer, and when the film ended, I was sure I hadn’t seen anything better in a long time.