The Edge of Seventeen

Movie review by Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Edge of Seventeen Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 16+

Excellent acting in poignant, mature coming-of-age story.

R 2016 102 minutes

Parents say

age 15+

Based on 15 reviews

Kids say

age 14+

Based on 42 reviews

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Community Reviews

age 16+

well-done and relatable characters, but truly horrible parent examples

This is one of few American teenager movies with realistic and relatable characters, which can lead to lots of meaningful parents -kids conversations about growing up. I truly love the film, but not the ending. ***Spoiler Alert*** At the end, the main character - Nadine, a 17-year-old teenager mended her mistakes and matured exponentially. Yet, somehow, the movie makes it seem like Nadine was the only one who was a problem, failing astronomically to address that: her rather toxic mother might just be one of the major reasons why Nadine was difficult in the first place. 1. Nadine's mom doesn't seem to have basic empathy for her daughter. She never apologized or remotely showed any regret after she told Nadine that Nadine’s late father (past away 4 years ago) would be very disappointed in who Nadine turned out to be, which is very emotionally abusive to say to a teenager who is clearly still grieving for her dad's death . 2. Nadine's mother is very emotionally immature and pushes a lot of her parental responsibilities to her kids (parentification). When Nadine got so upset and out of control because of what her mom said and drove off in her mom's car (Nadine doesn't have a driving license yet), instead of worrying about her daughter’s safety, all the mom complaint about was how embarrassing Nadine made her look in front of her boss. And when she complaint to her teenage son about what a horrible daughter Nadine was, it was at night and had been likely more than 8 hours that she hadn't heard from Nadine. Instead of trying to find Nadine and making sure Nadine didn’t do anything dangerous because of Nadine's volatile emotional state, the mom just called her teenage son to deal with it. While all she was doing was trying to throw her daughter's things out to release her anger. She then fell asleep later, when her son was out there trying to find his younger sister. The mom didn’t even wake up to check if her daughter came back home safely or not. Mind you, Nadine was almost raped that night. In contrast, even in horrible and confusing situation like this, Nadine somehow pulled it through, realized and started to amend for her mistakes that night. Nadine can be very difficult, but I can't see what's so awful about her that her mother made her out to be. She is just a rather normal struggling teenager. She never bullied people for fun or exhibited any behavior that's truly difficult to tangle. Besides, Nadine has solid reasons to be difficult, and to be unable to figure out so quickly How Not to be Difficult (seeing her father die in front of her in an accident; feeling not good enough compared to her brother in all aspects; feeling that she is losing her only friend to her brother who she hates, and who is not at all nice to her; being constantly labelled by her mother as difficult and lesser than her brother; having to counselling mom's constant "guy problem" like a "little parent" right after her mother shut her up when she tried to ask for emotional support, etc). Considering all these, without a good and safe adult role model to teach her how to cope, it is only normal that Nadine was difficult. The ending of this movie left a rather nasty aftertaste, a feeling that a struggling and isolated teenage girl (possibly with serious mental problems) is not allowed to struggle and be awful before she finds her way out, and that her mother, supposedly the role model, was not hold to the same standard (while her daughter apologized and changed, she never really did). Losing a husband and raising two kids is extremely difficult, but Nadine also lost her dad, she is only 17, and she needs a loving and supportive mother.
1 person found this helpful.
age 16+

Actors just shining all around!

Something immensely satisfying in seeing so much awkwardness. Perhaps because although I'm cringing, it all feels authentic. A tight script and performers who have a deep understanding of their characters makes for a thoroughly enjoyable film. A gem in a sea of predictable sentimental tear jerkers. There is nothing predictable about what comes out of Harrelson's mouth. He seems to have the most fun throughout the film. A hopeful film in the mire of angst, sadness, self-loathing, stifled anger and love.

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