Move over John Hughes – Kelly Fremon Craig is in the house. And she’s just penned AND directed one of the best coming-of-age films of 2016.
But while relative newcomer Craig’s work is a delight to see, the real star here is Steinfeld, who manages to elicit both laughs and tears with just one dry, sarcastic comment. Both hugely irritating and inherently likable, the character of Nadine is an exceptionally difficult balance to strike – and Steinfeld does it with a lot of humour and unwavering ease.
However, the best thing about this film is its subtle, central philosophy: that it’s cool to be uncool. We saw it in the ’80s with Hughes’ classics such as Weird Science (1985) and The Breakfast Club (1985). But we’ve been seeing it increasingly over the past few years, this ‘Cult of Nerd’ – in films such as 2015’s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – and it’s so refreshing to see slightly quirky characters, like Nadine in Seventeen, finally being appreciated, and in some respects even celebrated. Not only does it create a culture of acceptance for everyone’s little quirks – in Nadine’s case, it’s the fact that she’s a complete smart-ass – but it’s hugely entertaining onscreen. Which is probably why Dying Girl and Seventeen have both been standouts these past two years.
You’d think with such a difficult character at its centre, it would be difficult to find Seventeen enjoyable – but Steinfeld portrays Nadine in such a way that you can’t help but relate to her insecurities. A dry and witty supporting turn from Harrelson is the cherry on top of the cake for this surprising gem of a film – if you watch nothing else for the rest of 2016, definitely make this the last film you see.
CAST: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Blake Jenner, Kyra Sedgwick
DIRECTOR: Kelly Fremon Craig
WRITER: Kelly Fremon Craig
SYNOPSIS: High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother.