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Not* Just Another Teen Movie

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Sixteen-year-old Nadine is awkward, inflammatory, snarky, and an equally unlikeable and hilariously accurate representation of your own teenage self. She wears cool sneakers and vivid print skirts and sometimes has to be yanked out of her mother’s car like a resistive toddler in the school parking lot. She leans on her best and only friend, Krista, to hold her hair back after a night of orange Fanta and vodka cocktails, and to listen to her raves about a cryptic guy named Nick with an indie hairstyle and a self-serving agenda. But when Krista starts dating Nadine’s popular, distant older brother (Darian), and their friendship begins to unravel, you learn just how lonely the protagonist is under her comic facade.

The Edge of Seventeen, written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, takes the clichés of every coming-of-age teen movie screened in the past thirty years and distorts them in a fresh and funny way to better depict the reality of high school. Nadine, like any other outcast adolescent, falls for the obviously wrong guy, but instead of timidly waiting in the shadows for him to notice her, she sends him a confessional message, which says, among other cringey things, “We can do it in the Pet Land stockroom.” And when presented with a romantic moment on a ferris wheel with her dorky but loveable friend Erwin, she rejects his advances and simultaneously comes off as racist by asking if his mother worries about his grades and forces him to practice instruments (he’s Korean). A mix between Juno’s Ellen Page and New Girl’s Zooey Deschanel, this young protagonist says the completely inappropriate thing at the completely wrong time, but her quirk and cuteness comes off as magnetizing.

The strikingly familiar narrative twists and turns, disclosing the truth about Nadine’s depression and grief following her dad’s death. The film never really is about Krista’s relationship with Darian, nor is it about Nadine’s relationship with various romantic prospects, but rather, about the difficulties of a broken family and the miscommunication between those who’ve been wounded by loss. Hailee Steinfeld, who made an impressive debut in True Grit in 2010, finds a way to excite and torment and amuse and absorb her audience all within an hour and forty-four minutes. The Edge of Seventeen recycles the typical teen flick into an earnest and stirring tale you’ll want to see more than once. 

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The student news site of Oxford College of Emory University
Not* Just Another Teen Movie