The Edge of Seventeen
Universal // R // $34.98 // February 14, 2017
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted February 14, 2017
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Graphical Version
The Movie:

I knew little about The Edge of Seventeen before coming into it, though the slipcover puts out the audacious claim that it is "One of the best reviewed comedies of all time". Kind of a gutsy statement to make when one hangs their praise on an aggregator I suppose, and ‘One of the best reviewed…' doesn't necessarily make it one of the best, but it's still good regardless.

Written Kelly Fremon Craig, in her first script since 2009's Post Grad and her directing debut, we mainly look at the relationship of a sister and older brother. Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit) has been friends with Krista (Haley Lu Richardson, The Last Survivors) for most her life. And on a night when Nadine's house hosts a party, she finds Krista in bed with her older brother Darian (Blake Jenner, Everybody Wants Some). Darian has served as the de facto head of the house in the years since he and Nadine lost their father, while their mother (Kyra Sedgwick, Cop Car) deals with the loss and puts a roof over her kids' heads. But this new wrinkle in Nadine's life threatens a couple of relationships and she's not sure how to deal with it.

The other thing that was a surprise was the all-too-familiar title card of Gracie Films, known for their appearance at the end of every Simpsons episode but also a production company founded by James L. Brooks who produced this film, but has given a wider voice to artists in the past such as Cameron Crowe and Wes Anderson for their films to be seen. In Edge of Seventeen we see characters who hold a stronger head for the pressures than similar films have perhaps portrayed, along with handling the loss of a family member. Nadine and Darian have a good relationship until Darian and Krista start to be an item and the fracture feels authentic. Combine the genuine feelings with the usual moments of comedy found in similar coming of age films and things are engaging and witty just the same.

The performances are up to the task as well. I had to look to see what Steinfeld's done since the Coen Brothers film, and that I even saw a couple of these things and forgot about them may be a testament to her role in them as much as the films themselves. But she exhibits a tremendous amount of depth in Nadine, whose character manages to express her feelings well while going through some of the things that teens go through these days. Her scenes with her teacher (Woody Harrelson, Out of the Furnace) help illustrate how much she's up to the cause. Harrelson's character isn't too mystical compared to other cinematic teachers I've seen recently but he handles the load well. For that matter, Jenner and Richardson turn in performances that were refreshing from actors I was even less familiar with.

Some of Nadine's choices in the film between the guy she wants and the guy she ends up with fall into the manner of actions that others have had before in past films, but the story in The Edge of Seventeen is laid out so that it doesn't feel maudlin, and Steinfeld's performance gives this greater weight. The film could easily have fallen into the realm where it felt like more of a teen movie, but it's actually one that doesn't belittle its protagonist, her peers or her elders, and was a breath of fresh air.

I guess in an age where we've got a cadre of reviewers, claiming that something is one of the best reviewed comedies of all time over say, Annie Hall or Young Frankenstein could be factually true. Nevertheless The Edge of Seventeen is a fairly intelligent, often wonderful story told by performers capable of turning in excellent work and do so on the whole of this.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

Universal gives The Edge of Seventeen an AVC encode to go with its 1.85:1 high-definition widescreen viewing, with the results looking gorgeous. The film gets ample chance to reproduce the grey clouds of British Columbia, while reproducing moments like Steinfeld's Big Lebowski sweater, or individual rain drops on the asphalt street at night when Nadine is trying to get home late in the film. Image detail isn't deep but it's accurate and colors are faithful to the source in a quality transfer.

The Sound:

DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround and the results are also up to the task. Dialogue is well-balanced through the course of the film and the numerous songs sound clear as can be, starting with the party early on in the film. The sound of a car crashing into a parked car lacks a little bit of low-end oomph but has enough dynamic range (and may be the most dynamic part of the film), but the overall soundtrack for the film is complaint-free.

The Extras:

3 deleted scenes (4:03) don't bring anything to the table except for a laugh out loud moment near the end, while a gag reel (5:21) is basically 4 and a half minutes of flubbed lines and a music outro. Standard definition and digital copies are also available.

Final Thoughts:

It's both fun to see films like The Edge of Seventeen get a lot of good word of mouth but also infuriating that similar films weren't as frequent when I was growing up. It stands as a wonderful and understated coming-of-age film with notable performances in it. Technically, the disc was good though could have used a boost in the supplemental material category. But it's a movie that everyone should check out when given the opportunity.

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