Misery, thy name is high school. And Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) would rather shuffle off this mortal coil than have to deal with one more day of social Darwinism and millennial ennui. Oddly, her homeroom teacher (Woody Harrelson) is unmoved by her suicide talk — partly because he’s heard it all before, but mostly because it’s really cutting into his lunch break.
In the pantheon of hard-R teen comedies, The Edge of Seventeen hews way closer to Heathers’ sly subversion than the locker-room boob bonanzas of Porky’s. But writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig knows her archetypes: the irritatingly perfect older sibling (Blake Jenner); the clueless mom (Kyra Sedgwick); the crush with amazing hair and no discernible personality (Alexander Calvert). Steinfield, a regulation hottie whose beauty we’re supposed to believe is somehow rendered invisible by her outsider status, often speaks with the kind of meta rat-a-tat wit that says more about self-aware screenwriting than the actual state of teendom.
Thankfully, Fremon Craig’s script is smart and sensitive enough not to gloss over the real pain lurking beneath Nadine’s bravado as she deals with the aftermath of her dad’s death, her best friend’s betrayal, and the fact that the right guy (Hayden Szeto) might not be the one with the best bangs. Seventeen gets that being young can feel like The Hunger Games without the prizes; at least there’s always hope — and graduation — on the other side. B+