Actress/singer Hailee Steinfeld, 19, isn’t quite sure her generation has an iconic film to call their own. Mean Girls? Maybe. Her own Pitch Perfect 2? Not heady enough. Steinfeld’s upcoming film The Edge of Seventeen (out Nov. 18) may just fit the bill. Written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, the film tracks the misadventures of Nadine, a bright, awkward teenager grappling with the injustices of high school and general adolescent misery. And it feels a lot like the John Hughes films of yore that spoke to one generation and kept resonating with younger and younger ones.
“I connected to Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club,” says Steinfeld, admitting that those now iconic films weren’t made for her teenage years. “I don’t know that my generation has really had a movie to call their own that’s this honest and real. I’m looking most forward to seeing if they feel that way [about Edge of Seventeen].”
The film has a good shot at hitting that mark for its honest portrayal of the internal life of a teenage girl. “It really is on all fronts, the reality of today,” Steinfeld says. “You walk through the hallways of a high school, that’s what you hear, that’s how people talk. There’s no shy approach to anything in this movie, whether it’s the language or the sexuality of how today’s communication affects things.”
I do feel like there’s a conversation to be had after young people see this movie. I really think they can call it their own.”
Fremon Craig, who worked under the tutelage of veteran movie producer James L. Brooks, says she never set out to make a modern day Hughesian film, but she was constantly consumed with how this story should remain authentic and honest to today.
“The mission at the center of everything for me and for the cast was always trying to capture this person as honestly as humanly possible, and all the facets of her. Really capture the messiness of her internal life,” she says. “It was a constant question of is it real, is it honest. That was always the guiding thread. That was the only thing that I was cognizant of — just try to tell her story as truthfully as possible.”