Reviewed by: Gabriel Mohler
use of vulgar and profane language
disobedience and disrespect of elders
abuse of alcohol by teenagers
GUIDELINES—What are the biblical guidelines for dating relationships? Answer
DATING—Why won’t my parents allow me to single-date? Answer
brother sister relationships
What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer
|Featuring:|| Hailee Steinfeld … Nadine
Woody Harrelson … Mr. Bruner
Haley Lu Richardson … Krista
Blake Jenner … Darian
Kyra Sedgwick … Mona
Hayden Szeto … Erwin
Alexander Calvert … Nick Mossman
|Director:||Kelly Fremon—writer of “Post Grad” (2009)|
“You’re only young once… is it over yet?”
“The Edge of Seventeen” is advertised as a comedy, but it’s more of a drama with some comedic moments. Its intention is to relate to teens in late high school and explore the things commonly associated with that time of life. Does it succeed?
Yes and no. Most teens with probably be able to identify with it and see something of their own lives in it. But will it inspire them? Well, I can’t speak for them, but I honestly doesn’t see how it could really inspire anyone. It understands its subject matter well and portrays it realistically… but then there’s no real resolution. Oh, all the strained relationships work out and everyone is happy in the end. But it’s extremely forced. They don’t really work through their problems, they just randomly decide to forget all the problems and start over. This may not always be a bad thing, but it felt like the writers said “Oh that’s right, I forgot we have to make this movie end within a few hours!”
The plot is basically this: Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) is a girl in late high school with strained relationships in almost every area of her life. We see a few hours of how the tension progresses, and then all the characters have some unexplained epiphany in the end, and it all works out.
As I said, this film portrays late high school teens very realistically. On the up side, it’s not a clichéd chick flick full of romantic fantasies. But on the very large down side, do we really want to see a realistic depiction of modern teens in late high school? The sexual content has very little shame. Instead of trying to describe all the explicit lines, let it suffice to say that I counted 14 with unnecessarily explicit references, jokes, or sexual hand gestures. While this was admittedly less than I expected, they were kind of hard to overlook and forget.
Besides immodest swimsuits, including a shirtless man, the closest the film ever gets to nudity is a cartoon character with penis-shaped fingers. There is also a disturbing scene where a young man begins physical foreplay without direct consent. He obeys her when she tells him to stop, but he is given all the blame for this, when she was the one who accidentally initiated it by not being careful with her lustful words. Nadine’s brother and best friend are seen cuddling in bed, but she stops them.
There is disobedience and disrespect of elders, with no direct consequences, but portrayed negatively in the context of strained relationships. A teenage girl gets drunk. We see someone sitting on the toilet, shown for no apparent reason. There is an extremely irreverent prayer containing the f-word.
Speaking of which, the language: 14 f-words, 16 s-words, 5 s-words, 5 d**ks (mostly in a song that repeats “you're a d**khead”), 2 d**ms, 3 h**ls, 1 ret**ded, 1 pr*ck, 1 holy cr*p, and a whopping 40 misuses of God’s name.
The only memorable positive message in the film is when Woody Harrelson’s character repays good for evil. Other than that, I was unimpressed. It kept me interested all the way through, from Hailee Steinfeld’s smoldering acting to its genuine understanding of teenage struggles, but let me down in the end when there was no satisfying payoff. It has true heart, but ultimately left me with a depressing aftertaste. It offers no real hope to struggling teenagers; it’s just a story of fate. The only way this film inspired me was inspiring me to pray for people who don’t ask the Lord for help.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
…A warm, winning teen-com… It’s really, really good. …
—Jon Frosch, The Hollywood Reporter
…the best teen movie in years… Hailee Steinfeld is excellent in this charming and insightful film about the turbulence of teendom. …
—Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair
…the savviest teen comedy in years, Hailee Steinfeld gives a star performance…
—Owen Gleiberman, Variety
…winning coming-of-age dramedy… the rare coming-of-age picture that feels less like a retread than a renewal. It’s a disarmingly smart, funny and thoughtful piece of work, from end to beginning to end. …
—Justin Chang, The Los Angeles Times
“The Edge of Seventeen” understands adolescence… unhurried, dryly funny, with empathy for both winners and losers… [4/5]
—Lawrence Toppman, The Charlotte Observer
…This is less a throwback to cutely misunderstood Molly Ringwald than to “My So-Called Life”—but with our high-school heroine stuck in a spiral like Claire Danes never knew. … 
—Tom Russo, The Boston Globe
…actress Hailee Steinfeld's Nadine is as likeable a crying-out-for-help teen as you’re likely to meet onscreen… The problem is The Edge of Seventeen also packs noxious teen-movie content into that humor and insight. It accepts the “fact” that an average high schooler’s day is constantly peppered with f-bombs and the like. … [2/5]
—Bob Hoose, Plugged In
…self-indulgent but comical teenage angst… an unacceptable, excessive movie about modern teenagers with a Romantic, pagan worldview full of teenage rebellion and plenty of foul language and bad behavior…
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide