We’ve seen plenty of coming of age teen dramedies since the 1980s and beyond. It’s the kind of thing John Hughes cornered a market on three decades ago. I have a feeling Kelly Fremon Craig’s TheEdgeofSeventeen would’ve made him smile. It presents teens who are smart and complicated. High schoolers who are capable of being wholly self-absorbed yet most of it stems from insecurity. Our central character Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) means well most of the time, at least in her own mind. And she’s the prime example of the traits listed above. With a truly impressive performance from an actress who broke out at age 14 in the Coens TrueGrit, both Steinfeld and Craig’s screenplay make Nadine feel authentic. You root for her even when you’re exasperated by her. Many a parent with teens could surely relate.
Nadine is an outsider – a high school junior with only one real friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). She’s always been a bit of a loner and the loss of her beloved father four years ago complicated it. Her overwhelmed Mom (Kyra Sedgwick) has a tough time figuring how to deal with her, while her super popular older brother Darian (Blake Jenner) seems to have life all figured out. When Darian and Krista begin dating, Nadine’s abandonment issues only worsen.
Throughout the picture, she turns to various people to try and alleviate her social awkwardness. This includes slightly nerdy student Erwin (Hayden Szeto), who’s crushing on her and too cool for school student Nick (Alexander Calvert), who she’s crushing on. Both relationships present with their own versions of humorous and recognizable awkwardness. Nadine also confides in her teacher Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson). He’s nowhere near the uncaring educator you’d witness in other genre pics nor the always wiser than thou teach you may have seen before. He clearly cares about Nadine, but his advice and comebacks are often genuinely surprising. There’s a subtly played moment where his pupil realizes her teacher has a life outside of the classroom and it feels just right. Most pleasingly, the role serves as another reminder that Harrelson has morphed into one of the most interesting character actors working today. He’s a pleasure to watch.
So is Steinfeld and the rest of the cast. TheEdgeofSeventeen might be more satisfying to viewers who have surpassed the age in the title by a few years. There may be more satisfaction for adults who can pick out their own remembrances of what it was like to be that age, when the highs couldn’t have seemed higher and the lows were literally the end of the world. Kelly Fremon Craig has crafted a perceptive, occasionally laugh out loud funny, and genuinely emotional snapshot of someone in that time period.
Hailee Steinfeld first broke onto the film scene as a young teen in the Coen Brothers hit Western remake TrueGrit. The result? An Oscar nomination for Supporting Actress. Since then, she’s made a few screen appearances and also become a platinum selling musician.
Next weekend, she’s said to have yet another breakout role headlining TheEdgeofSeventeen, a coming of age comedic drama. The pic debuted to highly positive reviews at the Toronto Film Festival and is at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Kelly Fremon Craig directs and costars include Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson, and Kyra Sedgwick.
How it will fare at the multiplexes? Perhaps solid buzz could keep it going well in subsequent weekends, but I’m not anticipating anything above a low teens opening as the higher bar. For one thing, this is going for a teen audience who may well be preoccupied with FantasticBeastsandWhereToFindThem.
I’ll predict Seventeen hits low double digits for its start.
TheEdgeofSeventeen opening weekend prediction: $10.9 million
For my FantasticBeastsandWheretoFindThem prediction, click here:
As the Toronto Film Festival has drawn to its conclusion, we have another picture to discuss and it’s a teen comedy drawing great reviews. TheEdgeofSeventeen stars Hailee Steinfeld as a high school junior whose brother starts dating her best friend. It costars Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson, and Kyra Sedgwick. Kelly Fremon Craig writes and directs and Seventeen is scheduled for a November 18th domestic release.
Six years ago, young Steinfeld was cast in the plum role of Mattie Ross in the Coen Brothers blockbuster TrueGrit. For it, she nabbed a Best Supporting Actress nod. Critics have been raving about her work here. Yet as has been discussed on this blog in recent days, 2016’s Actress race looks highly competitive and there may not be enough room for her this time around. Perhaps Craig could find herself in the mix for Original Screenplay if the film hits with audiences and the critical love continues.
Look for Oscar Watch posts as more hopefuls screen…
Richard Linklater brings his Dazed and Confused sensibilities to the early 1980s in Everybody Wants Some!!, focused on a college baseball team enjoying the spoils of boyhood in a slightly more grown up world than high school. The entire proceedings take place in a late August weekend before classes begin at an unnamed Texas university.
Ace pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner) is a freshman moving into one of two run down joints that house the team’s 16 players. Speaking of joints, we’ve got ’em along with lots of beer. There’s also the natural competitive nature of these young lads in full display (some of whom look far too old for college, by the way). This isn’t limited to the baseball field and it includes pool, ping pong, flicking knuckles, and chasing coeds. As you might imagine with Linklater, it’s all backed by a killer soundtrack with lots of rock but also some Sugarhill Gang (rap was just revealing itself to the masses here) for good measure.
Some!! is successful in showing the wide eyed awe of that time when anything seems possible and the night can take you anywhere (hangovers don’t really exist at this age). The 80s setting brings Jake and his mates smack dab into the social scene that dominated 1980 and conflicted with itself on occasion – discos, country western bars, punk rock moshpits.
Along the way, Jake meets a theater major (Zoey Deutch) who exposes him to yet another new and different crowd. All in a weekend. Linklater knows how to spring a certain era to life and that holds true here. Is it as memorable as Dazed or as brilliantly written? It is not, yet it’s a pleasant, sometimes raucous, and sometimes sweet experience. Fun while it lasts and ultimately a bit forgettable. That describes what’s happening with the people in Everybody Wants Some!! and for us as well.