You’ll see yourself in The Edge of Seventeen.
In her directorial debut, Kelly Fremon Craig pays homage to the John Hughes teen comedies of the 1980s, as charmingly though not in the ironic way Easy A, the modern reimagining of The Scarlet Letter, did in 2010. Rather than another adolescent flick about getting pregnant, laid, or shit-faced (maybe all three), going to prom, or chasing a crush, The Edge of Seventeen is about what it’s like just to be yourself. It’s maybe the most sincere teen comedy of the past 30 years.
You’ll be smitten by Hailee Steinfeld, playing Nadine whose tortured “Are you even up there (God)?” life as a loner starts to completely unravel when her best friend starts dating her older brother. She starts to find clarity from an unlikely friendship with her history teacher, Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson) — Steinfeld and Harrelson’s comedic chemistry is one of the film’s many delights — and a mild-mannered boy (Hayden Szeto) in her class named Erwin.
I’m going on 27 years old, so the best the film could do for me was take me back to a time when I had more insecurities and was trying to figure it all out. But someone of the age is going to relate to this film instantly, and that’s essential.
“The Edge of Seventeen”: ★★★ 1/2