Teen movies have been around since forever, hitting their peak in the 80’s when the late, great John Hughes cooked up some of the most memorable and quotable films of all time. “Sixteen Candles”, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “Pretty in Pink” and The Breakfast Club” have acquired a cult following ever since they were released. Many filmmakers followed in Hughes’ footsteps, but few have succeeded. Which brings me to “Edge of Seventeen”, from first-time writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig, who plugs in live wire Hailee Stenfeild as Nadine, a high-school girl who has to go through all the hassle of being a misfit. But things are about to get worse when she finds out that her best friend Krista is dating her older brother. Yikes! Steinfeld couldn’t be more appealing in the lead (I’d say this is a breakout performance but she was already nominated for an Oscar at the age of 14 starring alongside Jeff Bridges in the western remake “True Grit”), who nails it and brings genuine warmth to her scenes with her high school teacher, played by… wait for it…Woody Harrelson! Does the movie borrow from other classic teen movies? Naturally. But what makes “Edge of Seventeen” stand on its own is the fact that everything is perfectly orchestrated. Nothing seems arbitrary or out of place. That’s a rare achievement for a first time director covering familiar territory, and all the more reason to celebrate this highly enjoyable film.
★★★ Very good