★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki
"There are two types of people in the world: the people who radiate confidence & naturally excel at life, & the people who hope all those people die in a big explosion." That's a hilariously true quote from Hailee Steinfeld in The Edge of Seventeen, one of the best coming-of-age films of the century. Steinfeld plays Nadine, a teenager who is a complete outcast at her high school. However, her older brother Darian (played by Blake Jenner) is one of the most popular students at her high school. Nadine has had a rough life: her father died of a heart attack right in front of her at the age of 13, & her mother, Mona (played by Kyra Sedgwick) has always favored Darian over Nadine. But through all of this, Nadine has always had her best friend, Krista (played by Haley Lu Richardson) by her side, at least until Nadine catches Darian & Krista having sex. Nadine is upset at Krista for this, & as their friendship starts to fall apart, Nadine's life also starts to fall apart as well. But when she strikes up a friendship with a socially awkward teen named Erwin (played by Hayden Szeto), along with being guided by her brutally honest history teacher (played by Woody Harrelson), Nadine starts to realize that things may not be so bad after all.
The cast is absolutely stunning, with Steinfeld building on the promise of a great film career that started with her amazing Oscar-nominated performance in 2010's True Grit, & Harrelson giving one of his greatest performances ever. The direction & screenplay from first-time director Kelly Fremon Craig is nothing short of wonderful. This film perfectly captures teenage life in the 21st century, & I can really relate to this, & many of my friends can relate to this as well. It is both a hilarious comedy & a heartfelt drama. This is a coming-of-age classic, along with The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Heathers, Say Anything..., American Pie, Ghost World, Juno, & The Spectacular Now.
(One last note: Why did the MPAA give an R rating to a film that's perfect for teenagers? This film is so relatable to teenagers in high school. There's next to nothing in it that should make it R-rated. This film should be required viewing for teenagers).