Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

'Seventeen' Does Justice to Teendom

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

'Seventeen' Does Justice to Teendom

Article excerpt


We see a lot of teenagers in the movies, but it's almost always an ersatz version. They're much smarter, braver, more beautiful and interesting than real teens. Not to mention, they're generally played by actors ranging from mid-20s up to nearly AARP. The last time I spotted a zit on the face of a movie teen, I considered it a major triumph.

Audiences are used to the chicanery and understand they're watching Hollywood Teens, not any honest attempt to depict the real thing. That is what it is, but it does create an emotional disconnect from the people we're watching.

"The Edge of Seventeen" is a keener and truer take on teendom than we've seen in a while.

Hailee Steinfeld -- actually a teenager -- plays Lakewood High School junior Nadine, who has but one friend in the world and trouble connecting to anybody else. Her widowed mother (Kyra Sedgwick) is frazzled and harried, and older brother Darian (Blake Jenner) is handsome, popular and wants nothing to do with Nadine.

Nadine likes to wear weird clothes, trade insults with her burnt- out history teacher, Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson), and fantasize about hooking up with local bad boy Nick (Alexander Calvert), whom she's never even spoken to. She's dorky, clever, wickedly funny and rather glorious. But she sees herself as awkward and unloved, and that's a hard feeling to shake.

Things go from bad to worse when her best (really, only) friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), hooks up with brother Darian at a party. After an appropriate freak-out period, she's willing to abide the episode as a one-off -- but then Darian and Krista decide to make it a permanent thing.

Seeing this as the ultimate betrayal, Nadine launches herself into a vortex of loneliness and increasingly bad behavior. She sees herself as an outcast who's grown content with her small, stable patch of emotional turf. …

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