By Rachel Kennedy
This past week I got to talk with Hailee Steinfeld about her new movie “The Edge of Seventeen.” The actress and singer, known for her roles in “Pitch Perfect” and “True Grit” and her hit singles “Love Myself” and “Starving,” plays Nadine, an awkward 17-year-old just trying to figure it all out. The movie follows Nadine as she tries to navigate problems with her only friend, her seemingly perfect brother, her unaware mother and pretty much everyone she talks to. Nadine’s pessimistic attitude toward high school, combined with her quirky style and too-honest attitude, makes her a rebellious, awkward lead that we love to root for.
Although some of Nadine’s struggles are more severe or exaggerated than the typical teen’s, there’s no doubt that her issues will bring you right back to your teenage years and to some memories you wish you had left back in high school. Although Steinfeld was homeschooled since 6th grade, the Academy Award nominated actress says she didn’t find it hard to relate to a typical high school experience. “In some ways there were some things that came new to me, but I think having lived vicariously through friends [and a brother] who were in high school, I had the feeling of it,” Steinfeld said.
When I asked her if she felt like she missed out on anything by being homeschooled Steinfeld confessed, “The only time I ever really felt left out was, no joke, when there was a homecoming and I was on Facebook the next day looking at all the pictures of everybody dressed up. It kind of hit me that I would never sort of experience what that is like.” The actress went on to say, “but I do feel that I’ve made up for it in some other ways.”
Even though Steinfeld didn’t have the quintessential high school experience, she can still relate to Nadine’s teenage problems, like questionable haircuts, regrettable wardrobe choices and texting mishaps. Steinfeld explained, “I’ve definitely texted the wrong person the wrong text but I’ve never meant to say something to that person and accidentally sent it. That is a fear of mine.” She went on to say that, “I feel like this movie it represents sort of me as that age and I feel like I’ll be able to look back on it as if my high school years were documented.”
The movie itself is unapologetically blunt, uncomfortably accurate and laugh-out-loud funny. Cringe-worthy encounters, witty one-liners and perfectly timed insults are just a few things that make this movie a must-see comedy. Although the comedy aspect of the film is apparent from the start, don’t forget that this film is also recognized as a drama. As Nadine’s struggles start to unfold, the movie becomes an honest portrayal of the hopelessness that ensues when everything becomes too much as a teenager.
When I asked Steinfeld what she wants the audience to take away from the film she said, “I think that if people can watch this movie and feel like this represented a time in their life in an honest way or in what they feel is the most honest way its ever been portrayed. To where they can watch this film and feel like they’re not alone or they were never alone,” Steinfeld said. “I don’t know I always feel like that when we get to have a film that represents us and our generation and we get to kind of call it our own and this sort of represents us and now. I hope that people realize or feel that.”
“The Edge of Seventeen” is a must-see film that’s bound to be our generation’s “The Breakfast Club.” Although it has similar aspects of “Perks of Being a Wallflower” (dueling siblings, misunderstood main character and unexpected friendships), this movie is better. The fresh writing and relatable problems the characters face creates a film that simultaneously breaks you down only to reaffirm your teenage struggles. I guarantee you’ll walk out of this movie with your spirit restored and armed with some amazing one-liners.