Friday, August 11, 2017

"The Edge of Seventeen" (2016)

Every once in a while, I write about films on this blog that I tag with the label “Not a Recommendation.” That warning is issued because, while a lot of stories contain elements of truth and are worth talking about to better engage the culture, they are not all the sorts of stories that everyone should go out and consume. People need to make their own judgement call when it comes to violent and sexual content. “The Edge of Seventeen” is a perfect example of just such a movie. Along with some good insight, it has teenage characters engaging in a lot of sexual talk (and some sexual activity) and generally talking like potty-mouthed Hollywood versions of teens.

Hailee Steinfeld plays Nadine, a high school outsider. Her one best friend and fellow misfit starts dating Nadine’s older brother, who is a part of the popular crowd. Nadine takes offense at that and isolates herself further. To make matters worse, even though a nice boy is taking interest in her, Nadine only has eyes for a bad boy who doesn’t know she exists. Over the course of the movie, Nadine makes terrible choice followed by terrible choice. She can’t get out of her own way.

Her relationship with her mother is a major source of conflict. The viewer sees right away that they are too much alike. They both struggle to deal with difficulty in life. Her mom’s advice, that is almost good, is to realize that everyone on the world is as miserable as they are… just better at hiding it.

Nadine’s biggest problem is that she thinks the whole world revolves around her. When things don’t go her way, she sees it not simply as a case of life being unfair, but rather as a personal attack. God is out to get her. That is the biggest missing piece in this story. As soon as Nadine manages to gain empathy for others and see that the world doesn’t revolve around her, she will be much better off. But what she could really use is a voice in her life that shows her a sense of purpose, a picture of God that would care about her. The one voice of reason in her life, a teacher played wonderfully by Woody Harrelson, does not provide that.

If teens could see this movie for what it is, it might help them to get out of their own head and grow up a bit faster. Unfortunately, the edgy content makes it one that, at best, I might see with my kids once they are adults as a “that’s the point I was trying to make back when you were that age!”

 

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