A teacher, a mother and her teenage daughter are a mess in The Edge of Seventeen (2016). The Edge of Seventeen is a comedy drama about the angst of living and what can be done about it. Are they just going through a phase?

The teacher is played by Woody Harrelson who has just enough drool and melancholy to impart the problematic teacher role convincingly.

Harrelson plays Mr. Bruner who cuts and pastes. He plays the video on Abraham Lincoln’s life and leaves the classroom without providing an utterly captivating commentary. He’s just waiting for the student to flick over to the DVD menu and play the film maker’s commentary—if there is one for a really old film.

Hailee Steinfeld (Pictured)
Hailee Steinfeld (Pictured) plays Nadine in “The Edge of Seventeen”.

But Mr. Bruner has an uncanny ability to care, especially for his favorite pupil Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), who has problems of her own.

Nadine’s mother is Mona (Kyra Sedgwick) who is a total mess after her husband dies. She just has to remind herself of how everyone else is dying out there and then she’s all right.

Mona’s favorite sibling is her son, who is Nadine’s older brother (played by Blake Jenner), but Nadine sees the unfairness of this favoritism. Nadine is the one who is always singled out by Mom for her sulky behavior, but her brother is singled out for being exceptional.




The lonely girl

Nadine herself is a “misfit”. She has no friends, except for her one and only girlfriend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). But Nadine breaks up with Krista. Why? Because Krista becomes more than great friends with Nadine’s brother.

Nadine can’t bear the thought that she’s no longer her girlfriend’s number one. Nadine has no one else in her life. Ouch, enter angsty feelings, and that desperate feeling you need someone. It leads to all sorts of outlandish behavior. Two weeks of it. Parent’s thinking, oh, no.

Nadine’s problem under the layers is finding approval. Approval is what she needs—after seventeen years of growing up pains that have contributed to the phase she’s now in.

There are periods and phases in all of life which come with their unique problems. But there are ways of dealing with those periodic issues.

As well as teenagers going through phases, even adults go through phases. In The Edge of Seventeen Mr. Bruner was working on some issue as an older man, but found the way onward.

Relief for everyone is this: whatever one has to go through, at any one time, there is a way out.

It’s just a phase.

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