There are not that many films made today that throws one back to the 1980s high school classics written by John Hughes. The Edge of Seventeen is one such film.
Kelly Fremon Craig writes and directs this coming-of-age comedy in her directorial debut. Produced by James L. Brooks, the film stars Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, and Hayden Szeto.
What Kelly Fremon Craig gives us is an authentic film about what it’s like growing up in the digital age. Can you imagine John Hughes making a movie in which a character accidentally messages somebody about wanting to make out with them? It’s hard to imagine him writing something like that but that’s exactly what happens in when Hailee’s Nadine sends a text by accident to someone she’s crushing on.
While growing up, Nadine meets Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) and the two turn out to be best friends who don’t leave each other’s side. This is until they are in high school and while Nadine gets drunk one night, Krista and Nadine’s older brother, Darian (Blake Jenner), just happen to make out and start dating each other. This tears Nadine’s world apart and she starts acting out as a result. Her mother (Sedgwick) doesn’t understand her. Nadine had a better relationship with her father but he died following a car accident.
Nadine turns to her history teacher, Mr. Bruner (Harrelson), for the sage words of wisdom that she’s not getting anywhere else in her life. She eventually comes to see him for something else.
Moviegoers should be grateful that Fremon Craig’s spec script came to Brooks’ attention because the teen comedies from the 1980s just aren’t getting made today.
“I’ve always been intrigued by periods of rapid emotional growth and self-examination, when situations change around us, forcing us to step into new roles and re-determine who we are and how we feel about ourselves,” Fremon Craig says of the inspiration behind the film. “I started this project in an effort to try to capture this particular age and generation as truthfully as I could and with a respect for the complexity and messiness of it all. Passing from youth to adulthood is intense and terrifying and beautiful, and in many ways the experience of anyone, any age, shedding their old self and becoming new. I wanted to explore that.”
Brooks has a track record for discovering proven talent and letting them direct the films they wrote: Cameron Crowe (Say Anything) and Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket).
One can only look forward to what the future brings us from Kelly Fremon Craig.