Every generation needs a defining teen movie, and for this generation, The Edge of Seventeen may be it. The small-budget dramedy is up for Movie of the Year at this weekend’s MTV Movie & TV Awards, where it's sharing space with blockbuster nominees like Beauty and the Beast and Logan. But I think what it lacks in flash and action, it makes up for with emotion and plenty of heart.
Hailee Steinfeld stars as Nadine, a smartass with a funky sense of style and a salty attitude in writer Kelly Fremon Craig's directorial debut. She can't stand her jock brother Darian (Blake Jenner), and she alienates her flighty mother (Kyra Sedgwick). The only person Nadine can truly count on is her BFF Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). That is, until Krista starts dating Darian. Then things get messy, and Nadine begins to spiral into a tornado of angst.
The Edge of Seventeen is a sharp, laugh-out-loud portrait of a 17-year-old, and it’s also as much of a must-see as Rogue One, Get Out, and more of the past year’s biggest blockbusters. Read on to find out why it’s a bona fide teen classic.
Nadine is 100 percent real.Giphy
Steinfeld gives her Nadine total humanity. Her sour attitude is rooted in real tragedy and her tendency to be self-destructive comes from a place of real self-loathing. She can be kind of a nightmare — funny and thoughtful one minute, verbally tearing you to shreds the next. She's smart but not always self-aware — not to mention tangled up in hormones, emotions, and insecurity. In other words, she's exactly like a real 17-year-old.
The soundtrack is golden.Giphy
Every classic teen flick has great music, and The Edge of Seventeen is no exception. From the opening scene soundtracked by Santigold's spunky "Who I Thought You Were" to a pivotal party scene accented by Anderson .Paak and Two Door Cinema Club jams, there are plenty of awesome musical moments. Especially enticing is Angus and Julia Stone's "Big Jet Plane," which perfectly captures the ache, longing, and hope that Nadine feels as she (finally!) hangs out with her crush Nick.
There’s not a single clichéd character.Giphy
The Edge of Seventeen is full of familiar characters you'd recognize from other teen movies (the clueless mom, the annoyingly perfect sibling, the teacher turned mentor), but all are surprisingly complex. Take Nadine's wise and wise-cracking history teacher Mr. Bruner, brought to life by the hilarious Woody Harrelson. He turns the role on its head with a wickedly sarcastic sense of humor that makes Nadine realize she's being just a little too much.
The “guy who gets the girl” is a refreshing surprise.Giphy
In keeping with the above point about squashing stereotypes, we gotta talk about Erwin: Nadine's adorkable admirer and the foil to bad boy Nick. Erwin (played by Hayden Szeto) is Asian, which, sadly, is still rare for a romantic lead. For once, though, we get a completely complex portrayal of an Asian-American man (which feels like a big "eff you" to the tragically racist Long Duk Dong character in Sixteen Candles). Erwin is sometimes painfully awkward, but he's charming and relatable, and manages to steal Nadine's (and viewers') hearts by the end of the movie.
Nothing is sugar-coated.Giphy
Writer-director Craig nailed the way teens think, feel, and speak. Nadine's emotions are confusing, so it makes sense that the way she expresses herself is sometimes confusing too. Craig doesn't sugar-coat the dialogue, she doesn't pander to anyone, and she takes teen problems (not just pimples, but grief and depression) seriously. Still, she expects the best out of young people — even when they fuck up, lash out at the people who love them, and send accidental sexts. The Edge of Seventeen isn't at all out of touch, and that's what will ultimately give it a long shelf life as a teen classic.
Be sure to tune in to the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards on Sunday, May 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. And check MTV News for all your updates on the big show.