The Edge of Seventeen is a funny if overly familiar story of a female high school student learning to adjust to her new surroundings and the changing attitudes of the people around her. Hailee Steinfeld is unsurprisingly confident as the lead character, but for me, the real discovery of the movie was Haley Lu Richardson; if her agent is sharp, she’ll be landing some choice projects in the near future. Written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, the film is certainly perceptive in terms of modern teenage life, but I could have done without the more over the top plot shenanigans, and again, there was a whiff of familiarity and predictability to nearly the entire film. And while well written, some of the dialogue and the exchanges came off as too precious or self-labored; I didn’t truly believe the way some of the people spoke at times during this film.
Woody Harrelson does some dryly humorous supporting work, while Kyra Sedgwick is given an odd role to play, that of a stressed-out single mom whose role in the narrative feels a little underdeveloped. For me, the big reveal from this movie is Richardson, who was charming and extremely photogenic and seemingly capable of much more than just the “best friend” role. Blake Jenner, who was also good in Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some, is a hunk of All-American beef, with a mile-wide smile that reminds of a young Dennis Quaid, while Hayden Szeto delivered some awkward laughs. The film was produced by James L. Brooks, and was critically embraced last fall when it was released to decent if quiet box office results.