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Film / The Edge of Seventeen

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The Edge of Seventeen is a 2016 comedy-drama from writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig and produced by James L. Brooks. It was released in November 2016 and stars Hailee Steinfeld, Kyra Sedgwick, and Woody Harrelson.

Steinfeld plays Nadine, an awkward high school junior whose life takes an unexpected turn when her older brother Darian (Blake Jenner) starts dating her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). Nadine ends up starting a friendship with a classmate named Erwin (Hayden Szeto), who shows her that things may not be as bad as she makes them seem.

Not to be confused with the 1998 film of the same name.

This film contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Mona is an untraditional example. She isn't especially violent physically or verbally towards Darian or Nadine, but she is neglectful to them in favor of her romantic life and work, overly depends on Darian to support her, and doesn't seem to notice (or care) how much her daughter is hurting after her husband's death. She realizes this by the end of the movie and wants to make an effort to change.
    • A straighter example are Krista's parents, who are loudly arguing in the one scene we see of them.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Nadine has a crush on Nick Mossman, claiming that "juvie made him hotter".
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Darian has one for Mona when she tries to exert authority after calling him for help.
    Mona: I'm the adult here!
    Darian: Then why do you keep calling me?!
  • Beautiful All Along: In the pool scene, Nadine boggles when she sees that shy film geek Erwin has a six-pack.
  • Berserk Button: Mona telling Nadine her father would be disappointed in her prompts Nadine to steal her car, refuse to come home and sexually proposition her crush.
  • Betty and Veronica: A gender-inverted version; Erwin is the polite, endearingly awkward Betty and Nick is the unattainable bad-boy Veronica to Nadine's Archie.
  • Big Brother Bully: Downplayed with Darian, who frequently ignores and belittles Nadine; when she becomes upset that he and her best friend entered a relationship, he mocks her for not having any other friends, then abandons her at a party he and Krista pressed her to go to. When she tries to get him to understand that she thinks he doesn't love her as much as she loves him by bringing up an anecdote about their father's death, he calls her sick in the head, and when he has to chase her down when she leaves the house for a date with Nick, he seems more irritated at the inconvenience than worried she went missing. However, he reveals to her that he feels pressured to be the Only Sane Man and can't pursue his own wants and desires as a result, and they end up sharing a hug.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Nick acted nice to Nadine initially before angrily admitting he only asked her out to have sex.
  • Bittersweet 17: Follows 17-year-old Nadine, who finally realizes that her life hasn't been so happy up to now through a series of unfortunate Wild Teen Parties, and wants to kill herself after retrospectively also realizing that her life has never been as unhappy as it is now, either.
  • Broken Ace: Darian looks likes the model student, son, and brother but he feels weighed down by his responsibilities to his family.
  • Chickification: As soon as she starts dating Darian, pretty much all Krista does is smile and trot around after him for the rest of the movie.
  • Coming of Age Story: The title alone should be a dead giveaway. At seventeen, Nadine confronts her demons and grows up.
  • Daddy's Girl: Nadine was far closer to her dad. Then he died right in front of her.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Nadine's attentive and supportive father dies, while her self-centered and neglectful mother lives on.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Nadine, who uses as a means of dealing with her inner frustrations.
  • Disappeared Dad: Nadine and Darian's father dies of a heart attack early in the film.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Erwin is introduced clearly interested in Nadine, dorkily asking about her weekend. After he tries and fails with a ferris wheel kiss, Erwin doesn't ever press the issue himself again. Unlike a lot of Dogged Nice Guys, the ending of his animated film shows that he does think there's a limit to how many times he can be rejected before he moves on.
  • Endearingly Dorky:
    • Nadine loves best friend Krista because she still sees her as the dorky little girl who dressed like a little old lady and collected bugs. One of the reasons their friendship is strained in the movie is because Krista has grown up and her tastes have changed, whereas Nadine's emotional development has been halted ever since her dad died.
    • Erwin is adorably earnest in trying to flirt with Nadine, who he obviously has a crush on. Nadine can't even be upset when he awkwardly tries to go in for a badly-timed kiss on the ferris wheel, because he's so nice.
  • Fatal Flaw: Nadine's is impulsiveness, from lashing out at Krista and breaking off their friendship after she starts dating her brother, stealing her mom's car, sending a sexually explicit text to her crush...she does a lot of things in the movie totally on a whim.
  • Ferris Wheel Date Moment: Erwin tries to kiss Nadine on the ferris wheel. He references this trope by saying that he thought it would be romantic because they're on a ferris wheel.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Deconstructed. Darian being the model brother and Nadine being seen (and shown) as the impulsive and impetuous ones only fuels her insecurities. Darian later admits to feeling constricted by having to be not only a responsible sibling but person in his family's household.
  • Groin Attack: A rare self inflicted female example. Nadine while spraying herself with perfume for her date decides to also go under her skirt, which she immediately regrets.
  • Hidden Depths: Darian seems like a cavalier Dumb Jock through most of the movie, until Nadine runs away at the climax and he reveals that he thinks he's the only sane one in the family and feels he needs to stay close to his mom and sister at all times lest they hurt themselves or worse.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Nadine's mother is neglectful when it comes to her daughter, cannot handle any sort of parenting on her own, and is completely male-dependent on a man to keep her stable.
  • How We Got Here: The opening scene actually takes place about 65 minutes into the story.
  • Hypocrite: Crosses over with Brick Joke. Nadine rants that her fellow schoolmates would lose their minds if someone took away their phone. When Nadine steals her mother’s car and her mother threatens to take her phone, Nadine loses her mind.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Nadine accuses Darian of having this attitude. Towards the end, however, Nadine admits to having this attitude herself.
    • It runs in the family - Mona picks up Nadine, obviously upset, from a party and all she talks about is how her date went wrong.
  • Jerkass:
    • Darian appears to be this at first, but see Hidden Depths.
    • Played straight with Nick, who gets mad at Nadine for being reluctant to lose her virginity and flat out says he had only asked her out so he could have sex with her.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Nick is a huge dick for asking Nadine out for the sole purpose of taking her virginity… but he is correct when he points out that she is the one who initiated contact with him about having a sexual encounter.
    • Mr. Bruner, while being overly sarcastic about it, is very much correct for calling out Nadine for trying to get a "freebie" in his class by using her dead dad (who passed away 5 years ago) as an excuse.
  • Jerkass Realization: By the end of the movie, Nadine, Darian, and their mother Mona all have one of these.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Mr. Bruner is a sarcastic and at times rude teacher, who is not that good at his job, and seems like he doesn't care about his students, but he gives Nadine some good advice after she sends Nick a sexually explicit message, picks up an upset Nadine after Nick rejects her, and even takes her back home after she and her brother have an argument. He's also shown to be a really good father and husband.
    • Darian also spends a good deal of the movie insulting Nadine and generally acting like a smug dick. But then, when he confronts Nadine at Mr. Bruner's house, he reveals how being their mother's constant emotional support following their father's death and the worry he feels about both her and Nadine (even going as far as to only consider going to nearby colleges), showing that underneath his icy exterior, he truly does care about his sister.
  • Kick the Dog: The worst thing Nadine does is probably bringing up when Darian was crying the day after their father died to throw it in his face that he doesn't love her as much. He's suitably shocked and infuriated by the low blow.
  • Kiss Diss: Erwin goes in for an awkwardly timed kiss on the Ferris wheel. Nadine turns him down.
  • Like Father, Like Son: They'd never admit it but Nadine and her mother have a lot in common. Both are still struggling to deal with the death of Nadine's father, struggle with feeling empty inside, lash out verbally ruthlessly when angry, throw petulant fits and go for the wrong guy in the movie.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Implied and downplayed with Erwin. While he does have friends, his parents are away on business a lot and leave him alone in their big house.
  • Love Epiphany: Nadine has been aware of Erwin's interest in her but views him like an old man (in a good way). Experiencing the shitty date with Nick and then watching Erwin's not-so-subtle animated film about his feelings as a Dogged Nice Guy makes her realize how good Erwin has been to her.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Nadine and her father listen to Billy Joel's "You May Be Right" while in the car together....and the song continues as he has a heart attack, crashes the car, and dies.
  • Master of the Mixed Message: Nadine rejects Erwin's kiss on the ferris wheel but then invites herself over to his swimming pool alone. And then reenacts a movie scene asking him if he wants to have sex.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits: Nadine is horrified that her best friend and her brother are dating. She blames Darian at first but tries to force Krista to choose between the two of them.
  • Motor Mouth: Nadine talks...a lot. And pretty quickly. Lampshaded by Erwin who says he didn't tell her his family was rich because she never gave him the opportunity to tell her.
    • Erwin has the bad habit of rambling to cover his nervousness. Which he is almost always around Nadine.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Nadine appears to have this after her fight with Krista results in her ending their friendship.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Several lines of dialogue present in the trailer don't appear in the movie.
  • Only Friend: Nadine was friendless as a child before Krista showed up in her life. The two don't have anyone else for a decade. Watching Krista get popular and make other friends as part of dating her brother drives Nadine even further isolated from her.
  • Parental Favoritism: Mona, not so subtly, favors Darian over Nadine. At one point, she even calls him the perfect child, right in front of Nadine. And while not outright stated, it is implied that Tom and Nadine had a special bond, which is why his death hits her so hard.
  • Parental Substitute: Mr. Bruner acts reluctantly and somewhat against his will as a father figure for Nadine. She even mentions he should date her mom.
  • Product Placement: Nadine is one of the few people to own a Windows Phone. She also has a Microsoft Surface.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Nadine gives one to Mr. Bruner after he quips that maybe nobody likes her. He is completely unfazed by it. Since she doesn't know him that well, her attacks against him about being lonely or unable to get a girlfriend because of his baldness are completely wrong since he's Happily Married with a kid. He's even a bemused that she actually managed to underestimate his teacher's salary.
  • Secretly Wealthy: Erwin, who seems otherwise normal and well-adjusted, but lives in a mansion with a heated pool. He mentions that people don't usually believe him when he tells them.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Much like a John Hughes film, it's a cynical film with something heartwarming at its core.
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: In the opening voiceover. According to Nadine, Darian is the first type, while she is the second.
    Nadine: There are two types of people in the world: The people who naturally excel in life and the people who hope all those people die in a big explosion. When I was 13, it was clear which side of the equation I was on but that's what best friends are for and I had Krista.
  • Toilet Paper Substitute: Right after Nadine complains to God that every time she asks for help he seems to screw her over more, she turns to see they're out of toilet paper. She's forced to grab the rough brown hand wipe paper towel.
  • The Unfavorite: Nadine sees herself as this in her mother's eyes, and given that Mona calls Darian the "perfect child" at one point, this is almost certainly the case.
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: Windows Phone with increased font size basically results in this.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Nadine gives one to Krista after she says she's Darian's girlfriend.