Teen years on the edge

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Screen -

OPEN­ING with a fran­tic se­quence in which Nadine (Hailee Ste­in­feld) marches into her class­room to tell her teacher Mr Bruner (Woody Har­rel­son) she is go­ing to com­mit sui­cide, we rewind to find out how she got to this point.

Has she faced tragedy or is she just be­ing melo­dra­matic?

A lit­tle from col­umn A and a lit­tle from col­umn B.

Life has been pretty rough for Nadine, who was an awk­ward child with one friend, picked on by others and whose older brother was favoured by their mum (Kyra Sedg­wick).

When her dad, the only other per­son she could re­late to, dies, her life hits a ma­jor hur­dle.

Things get worse when her only friend Krista (Ha­ley Lu Richard­son) and jock brother Dar­ian (Blake Jenner) start hook­ing up.

As if be­ing a teenager with bad hair and pim­ples wasn’t hard enough as it was.

There are fa­mil­iar el­e­ments to Nadine’s story (an­noy­ing sib­ling, cute boys, dis­cov­er­ing sex, lame par­ents), but writer/di­rec­tor Kelly Fre­mon Craig rises above cliches by giv­ing the char­ac­ter some ac­tual hard­ships and deep psy­cho­log­i­cal strain that in­form her ac­tions that she must over­come.

Without this, and Ste­in­feld’s ma­ture per­for­mance, the char­ac­ter could have been a bratty, one-note an­noy­ance.

Ad­di­tion­ally, this com­ing-of-age story is more than just about pout­ing teens – it is about see­ing things from other peo­ple’s per­spec­tives.

Some­times hi­lar­i­ous and other times scar­ily ac­cu­rate in its de­pic­tion of ado­les­cent is­sues, teen trauma has rarely been so heart­break­ingly funny.

Hailee Ste­in­feld and Woody Har­rel­son in The Edge of Sev­en­teen.

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