The edge of 17 Peter Spann film review

There’s a wonderfully quaint feel to The Edge of 17, a comedy drama about an abrasive teen, that you reluctantly learn to love.

Perhaps it’s the 80’s nostalgia, which will make you redefine your youth, it’s got all of the air and depraved realness of The Breakfast Club.

edge of 17 film review peter spann

The Edge Of Seventeen is a film making debut from writer and director Kelly Fremon Craig.

The fact that Kelly was able to direct her own literary vision gives the audience a view of the relatable anger that a teenage girl feels.

A Film by a Young Woman for Young Women

Simply put, this is a film that couldn’t be directed by a man. Angst becomes the staple emotion throughout the film, however they still keep a frank air of comedy amongst the awkward drama.

Every man and woman can relate to the time when your life was wrapped in intrepid narcissism, where you believed everything was the end of the world. The trials and tribulations of high school left you feeling undue whilst you’re in a whirlpool of emotion that you were never taught to expect. And within this pressure cooker you’re forced to create an identity, repressing your idiosyncrasies to fall in line whilst trying to find your place in the world.

A Radiant Star

For Hailee Stienfield The Edge of Seventeen is arguably her debut role as the radiant star at the centre of this gripping comedy drama.

Which was undoubtedly informed by her career as a pop star. She portrays a moody, direction-less teen ‘Nadine’ perfectly, the cast is rounded by the stereotypical inclusion of a frazzled single mother of two and the golden child brother played by Blake Jenner, and of course he’s good at sports, just so they check every high school cliché in the book.

Woody at His Laconic Best

At points, the film is a little grating as it focuses on the battle between a young girl and her hormones. The main redeeming feature in the film is her history teacher played by Woody Harrelson who fades into the story line, serving no other purpose than to contend with Nadine’s sardonic wit. Yet their interactions illuminate that there’s more to this moody teen than meets the eye.

The Love Interest

No coming of age story would be complete without a love interest which comes in the form of a slightly nerdy classmate who ultimately becomes an unexpected heart throb through his ethnic allures. At the centre of Nadine’s existential crisis is the precarious relationship between her best friend and her brother. In her bid of teen rebellion she casts aside the nerdy classmate, and opts for the danger of reaching out to Nick, another stereotype box ticked as the ‘bad boy’.

Yet even despite the deplorable amount of stereotypes used, the film takes an entirely different direction to what’s expected, which ultimately creates a raw viewing experience. There’s no clear end to the film, signifying the years of disdain ahead of Nadine.


by Peter Spann

Peter Spann is a business coach, writer, presenter and investor.