Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Put This One On Your List

Every rare once in a while, a movie comes along and hits the very right chord at the very right time.  For me, that most recently happened with "The Edge of Seventeen."

Okay, admittedly, it looks like one of those standard coming-of-age comedies.   But, let's face it, there is a theme here that can resonate with each and every one of us.   Because, at one point, we were all seventeen.   And, despite what decade you were seventeen in, there are universal themes that last over time. Aren't there, Len?

The attempts to fit in.

Making friends.   

Keeping friends.


Oh, yeah, and I should say that one again.


The kids we meet in "The Edge of Seventeen" might be more saavy when it comes to texting and the like.   They might be smarter and more media-focused. And, yes, the language is much more profane.   But the problems are the same and perfectly depicted by first-time screenwriter and director Kelly Fremon Craig.   She might be a talent we will hear from again.

The main character here is 17-year-old Nadine and, while dealing with the usual teenage issues, she's also groping with some bigger-than-acne problems.  She and her dad were in a car crash five years earlier.   One minute, they're singing Billy Joel songs, the next minute he's dead.  So, that sorrow lingers as mom Kyra Sedgwick struggles with Nadine and brother Darian.  To make matters worse, Nadine's only real friend starts to date Darian and that's never a good thing.  So, Nadine begins to completely unravel as she herself attempts to make connections with a couple of boys in school.

If that sounds routine and pat, trust me it's not.   There are real emotions here that really can resound with each and every viewer.   Can't they, Len?  At the heart of it all are a bunch of wonderful acting turns.   But, the film is stolen in broad daylight by Halee Steinfeld as Nadine and Woody Harrelson (???!!!) as probably the only teacher and person she trusts in the whole world.  Halee's already been nominated for an Oscar via her work in the "True Grit" remake. This might be nomination #2.   As for Harrelson, his portrayal here is so sympathetic and simultaneously hilarious that you can't believe he can do both emotions at the same time.

The producer of it all is James L. Brooks and there's a little bit of Simpsons thrown in along the way.   Indeed, if he's the one who discovered this writer and director, he should get an Oscar for that all by himself.

Of course, "The Edge of Seventeen" is not for everyone.   Only those of you who were ever seventeen should consider it.


LEN'S RATING:  Four stars.

Dinner last night:  Garlic chicken with noodles.

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