2 out of 5 stars
Short Take: The phrase comes from the film industry, originally, and it means a short bit of recording or “something that only takes a short time,” especially if a longer version may be done later.
Reel Dialogue Short Take review: A short review of a film with potential discussion points
Summary: The coming of age film is a rite of passage for every generation. A film that defines the travails of the teenager’s journey through high school, relationships and family situations. The Edge of Seventeen strives to be the Sixteen Candles of this generation by focussing on the real and self-inflicted challenges of Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld). Her life is defined by the proverbial cloud that resides over her head. She seems to be her family’s counter-balance to her near perfect brother, Darian (Blake Jenner). The only solace that she has in life is her friendship with Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), who has been there for Nadine through the extensive highs and lows of her life. Then her world seems to implode when Krista and Darian begin a relationship. The perplexed teen must determine how to respond to this unthinkable scenario and how she will get on with life.
Short-take: As a film critic, many hats are worn when going to watch a film. The various options include film analyst, husband, friend and father. With the hat of the film aficionado squarely on my head, The Edge of Seventeen provides much to celebrate. The performances of Hailee Steinfeld (Ender's Game) and Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games) show the great cast in this film. Their student-teacher relationship is one to be praised. It also opens the door to the new directorial talent of Kelly Fremon Craig. This film truly provides a glimpse into a promising career of a new female director. With these elements alone, this production should make a critic cheer.
Then why did I leave the theatre with a sick stomach? Knowing that it was not the popcorn or the M&M’s, my sour stomach must have occurred because of another hat appearing on my head. The fedora of fatherhood fell down hard on my forehead, specifically being the father of three daughters.
If this is the world that our children are experiencing, there is very little to laud. The vision of my daughters sitting in Nadine's chair caused a knot to form in my gut that never left during the screening. I am fully aware of the harsh realities of this world and that things have not changed much over the decades. Besides the extreme language, the message of this film did not offer anything different from most John Hughes films. The big difference is that language and the lack of subtlety. When did we get to a point in film making that good writing has to be laced with foul language? A word to script writers, the f-bomb does not lift the quality of your writing. Before I continue to sound like a curmudgeon, I will stop hammering the multitude of issues that I have with this film.
The key issue came down to the metaphoric hat was on my head. If I was to place myself in the film, my role moved from seeing myself as the awkward teenaged boy to the loving and caring father. I tried hard to change hats during the screening, but the fatherhood hat won out for this review. The Edge of Seventeen merely made me want to run home and hug my daughters and hope they never experience Nadine’s life. Also, it put my prayer life into full gear for the sake of my beautiful offspring.
REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
1. What value are daughters to fathers? (Psalm 144:12, James 1:17-18, 2 Timothy 1:3-4)
2. What can we learn from grief? (Psalm 34:18, 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4)
3. Is God a mystery? (Colossians 2:2-3, Ephesians 3:5)