Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Edge of Seventeen (2016 film)

Written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, The Edge of Seventeen is the story of a high schooler who confides to one of her teachers about wanting to kill herself as it relates to the complication of her life that includes her older brother dating her best friend. The film follows the life of a young woman dealing with growing pains as well as the many complications relating to loss and the uncertainty of being a teenage girl. Starring Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Kyra Sedgwick, Hayden Szeto, and Woody Harrelson. The Edge of Seventeen is a riveting and witty film from Kelly Fremon Craig.

The film follows a seventeen-year old high school student whose life has become troubling as she turns to one of her teachers where she has thoughts about killing herself. During this conversation with her teacher, she thinks about the events in her life that has shaped her including her tumultuous relationship with her older brother, the death of her father a few years before, and the fact her brother is now dating her best friend. Kelly Fremon Craig’s screenplay opens with the film’s protagonist Nadine Franklin (Hailee Steinfeld) driving to her school and then walk to the classroom of one of her teachers in Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson) as much of the film’s first two acts is about Nadine telling Mr. Bruner what’s been happening with her life. Much of it involves having to be in the shadow of her older brother Darian (Blake Jenner) who often gets his way since they were kids as the only friend she had is Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) who had always been there for Nadine.

During a sleepover one night when Nadine and Darian’s mother Mona (Kyra Sedgwick) is out of town, something happens that changes everything where Krista and Darian become a couple much to Nadine’s disgust. It play into Nadine’s own insecurities as she often feels like her brother always get what he wants and is often considered the favorite since their mother always calls on Darian. Nadine also copes with her own desires as she has a crush on an older classmate in Nick Mossman (Alexander Calvert) but has befriended another classmate in Erwin Kim (Hayden Szeto) who has feelings for her. Still, it raises a lot of confusion for Nadine who is dealing with so much including her relationship with her mother that is reaching its breaking point.

Craig’s direction is quite simple where it doesn’t rely a lot in style in favor of something more straightforward. Shot largely in Anaheim, California as Portland, Oregon with some scenes shot near Vancouver and Surrey, British Columbia in Canada, the film is set in a suburban world where everyone kind of knows each other but it’s a world where Nadine feels like she doesn’t really belong to. Even in moments where Craig would use wide shots to establish her own isolation when she breaks off her friendship with Krista as Craig would also use some medium shots to play into the growing confusion and anguish that Nadine is enduring. There are some close-ups in some scenes such as a moment where Nadine is thirteen dealing with the awkwardness of growing up as she sports a bad haircut. It’s among the few moments in the film where Craig displays some humor while much of the drama is low-key and restrained to play into Nadine’s own growing pains as she tells her story to Mr. Bruner. When the film returns to that opening scene where it would lead to the third act, some revelations occur about not just Nadine but also Mr. Bruner and Darian as the latter copes with being the man of the house. All of which play into Nadine’s search in finding herself as well as deal with the fact that there’s people who do care about her. Overall, Craig creates a compelling and heartfelt film about a seventeen year-old girl dealing with loneliness and herself.

Cinematographer Doug Emmet does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it is largely straightforward in its autumn setting while using some lighting schemes for some of the scenes at night. Editor Tracey Wadmore-Smith does nice work with the editing as it is also straightforward with some stylish montage cuts to play into Nadine’s own troubles including the film’s opening sequence. Production designer William Arnold, with set decorator Ide Foyle and art director John Alvarez, does fantastic work with the look of Nadine’s home as well as the home she, Darian, and their mother live in as well as the home of Erwin.

Costume designer Carla Hetland does terrific work with the costumes as it is largely casual as well as the usage of color to play into the personality of the characters. Sound designer Kami Asgar and sound editor Erin Oakley do superb work with the sound as it is straightforward including the way things sound at a party or at the school cafeteria. The film’s music by Atli Orvarsson does wonderful work with the music with its mixture of folk and keyboard-based music to play into some of the film’s dramatic moments while music supervisor Jason Markey creates a fun mixture of music ranging from old-school music from Billy Joel, the Alan Parsons Project, Aimee Mann, Pixies, Beck, and Spandau Ballet to current music from Cut Copy, Miles Betterman, Santigold, Craig Austin, Cloves, Miike Snow, Valentino, Birdy, ASAP Ferg, Caribou, Two Door Cinema Club, Anderson Paak with Schoolboy Q, Phantogram, and the 1975.

The casting by Melissa Kostenbauder is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from Lina Renna as the young Nadine, Ava Grace Cooper as the young Krista, Christian Michael Cooper as the young Darian, Eric Keenleyside as Darian and Nadine’s father Tom in the film’s flashbacks, Alexander Calvert as an older student named Nick that Nadine has a crush on, and Hayden Szeto in a terrific performance as Erwin Kim as a classmate that Nadine befriends as he tries to woo her awkwardly while listening to her problems. Kyra Sedgwick is fantastic as Nadine and Darian’s mother Mona as a woman that is very image-conscious as she is trying to be young and vibrant but copes with Nadine and her issues where she really doesn’t understand her. Blake Jenner is excellent as Darian as Nadine’s older brother who is the epitome of perfection as someone that is just trying to be a good person yet hides his own secret about the way things are going for the family.

Haley Lu Richardson is brilliant as Krista as Nadine’s best friend who finds herself falling for Darian as she finds herself torn in wanting to be there for Nadine but also finding someone in Darian that she likes being with. Woody Harrelson is incredible as Mr. Bruner as a teacher who listens to everything Nadine is going through as he is a man that knows that Nadine is a lot smarter than the students he’s taught while also being a very calm and observant man that knows a lot as well as provide some sensitivity in trying to help this young girl. Finally, there’s Hailee Steinfeld in a remarkable performance as Nadine as this seventeen-year old girl that is dealing with a lot in her life as she tries to cope with her loneliness as well as her own wants and needs where Steinfeld provide that air of energy and angst into the role of a teenager dealing with growing pains and her role in the world.

The Edge of Seventeen is a sensational film from Kelly Fremon Craig that features great performances from Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson. Along with its supporting cast, fun soundtrack, and an engaging story on growing pains and teenage identity, it’s a film that has elements of realism but enough entertaining moments to create something that audiences can connect with. In the end, The Edge of Seventeen is a phenomenal film from Kelly Fremon Craig.

© thevoid99 2018


Big Screen Small Words said...

I really enjoyed this movie, and Hailee Steinfeld was good in it. She's been in bad movies so this feels like a breath of fresh air in her filmography. I didn't like how they handled the brother arc though. He made it seem that Nadine should feel sorry for him and "justifies" why he should be allowed to date her best friend. He didn't care that they were fighting, and he makes himself look like he's the bigger person in all of it.

Brittani Burnham said...

I was not expecting this film to resonate with me like it did. I cried in a few parts. Hailee Steinfeld was really good.

thevoid99 said...

@Big Screen Small Words-Yeah, Hailee Steinfeld needs to do better projects as she has what it takes to do so much more as an actress. There were a few issues as it relates to her brother where he could've been more sympathetic in her problems but often brushes it off as a way to act superior. They should've done more to make him a flawed person.

@Brittani-It was better than I thought it would be as I do like Hailee Steinfeld though I'm not a fan of her music.