Some of the best comedies distinguish the touching hysterical irony of life’s joy and tragedy, and celebrate the very best in people in life’s paradox. “The Edge of Seventeen” is that and much more. First time Director and Writer Kelly Fremon Craig masterfully navigates that fine line between cleverer than thou, and the reckoning of one’s self. Craig captures the natural speak of high school kids without some of the pretense of “Juno”. “The Edge of Seventeen” makes you burst out loud with laughter, and touches your heart. Hailee Steinfeld makes this all possible. What a revelation. I remember Hailee from the Cohen Brothers’ “True Grit”— phenomenal. Here she is a star. Steinfeld’s performance is funny, vulnerable, and fearless. Hers is one the year’s best as well.
“The Edge of Seventeen” begins somewhere in the middle of the story. Steinfeld’s teen drama queen supreme Nadine interrupts her favorite teacher Mr. Brunner played Woody Harrelson, “I’m gonna kill myself…” After a deadpan stare, Mr. Brunner reads Nadine his own drafted suicide note. Too funny. Steinfeld artfully invents Nadine as worthy of love, even when she says the vilest things. She tells literally her only friend in the world Krista (big hearted Hailey Lu Richardson) to choose between her and Nadine’s brother Darian (dashing and surprising Blake Jenner). On the ferris wheel ride with Korean American Erwin (good-looking and whimsical Hayden Szeto), the charming animation nerd who is so in love with Nadine, she spews out a comical stereotype rift about of his parents. Then she admits, “All of that was racist.” Craig and Steinfeld compassionately walk that fine line with inspired humor.