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5 Reasons Why The Edge of Seventeen Is A New Teen Classic

Every generation needs a defining teen movie, and for this generation, The Edge of Seventeen may be it. The small-budget dramedy is up for Movie of the Year at this weekend’s MTV Movie & TV Awards, setting it way apart from blockbuster nominees in the category like Beauty and the Beast and Logan. And yet, what it lacks in flash and action, it makes up for with emotion and plenty of heart.

Hailee Steinfeld stars as Nadine, a smart-ass with a funky sense of style and a salty attitude. She can’t stand her jock brother, Darian (Blake Jenner), and she alienates her flighty mother (Kyra Sedgwick). The only person she can truly count on is her BFF Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). That is, until Krista starts dating Darian. Then things get messy and Nadine begins to spiral into a tornado of angst.

The Edge of Seventeen is a sharp, laugh-out-loud portrait of a 17-year-old, and it’s also as much of a must-see as Rogue One, Get Out, and more of the past year’s biggest blockbusters. Read on to find out why it’s a bona-fide teen classic.

  • Nadine is 100% real.

    Steinfeld gives total humanity to Nadine, whose sour attitude is rooted in real tragedy and whose self-destructiveness comes from a place of real self-loathing. She can be kind of a nightmare — she’s funny and thoughtful one minute, but will verbally tear you to shreds just as quickly. She’s smart, but she’s not always self-aware, and she’s simultaneously tangled up in hormones and emotions; in insecurity and narcissism. In other words, she’s exactly like a real 17-year-old.

  • The soundtrack is golden.

    Every classic teen flick has great music to go along with it, and The Edge of Seventeen is no exception. From the opening scene that’s soundtracked by Santigold’s spunky “Who I Thought You Were,” to a pivotal party scene accented by Anderson .Paak and Two Door Cinema Club jams, there are plenty of awesome musical moments. Especially enticing is Angus & Julia Stone’s “Big Jet Plane,” which perfectly captures the ache, the longingness, and the hopefulness that Nadine feels as she (finally!) hangs out with her crush Nick.

  • There’s not one stereotypical character in sight.

    The Edge of Seventeen is full of familiar characters you’d recognize from other teen movies (the clueless mom, the annoyingly perfect sibling, the teacher-turned-mentor), but all of them are surprisingly complex. Take Nadine’s wise and wise-cracking history teacher Mr. Bruner, brought to life by the hilarious Woody Harrelson. He immediately turns the would-be cliché role on its head with a wickedly sarcastic sense of humor that makes Nadine realize she’s being just a little too much.

  • The “guy who gets the girl” is a refreshing surprise.

    In keeping with the above point about squashing stereotypes, we gotta talk about Erwin: Nadine’s adorkable admirer and the foil to bad boy Nick. The character and the actor behind him, Hayden Szeto, are Asian, which is sadly still rare to see in a romantic lead. For once, though, we see a completely unstereotypicaj portrayal of an Asian-American man (which feels like a big “eff you” to the tragically racist Long Duk Dong character in Sixteen Candles). Erwin is sometimes painfully awkward, but he’s charming and relatable, and manages to steal Nadine’s (and viewer’s) hearts by the end of the movie.

  • Nothing is sugarcoated.

    Writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig nailed the way that teens think, feel, and speak. Nadine’s emotions are confusing, so it makes sense that the way she expresses herself is sometimes confusing too. Craig doesn’t sugarcoat the dialogue, she doesn’t pander to anyone, and she takes teen problems (not just pimples, but grief and depression) seriously. Still, she expects the best out of young people, even when they fuck up, lash out at the people who love them, and send accidental sexts. The Edge of Seventeen isn’t at all out of touch, and that’s what will ultimately give it a long shelf life as a teen classic.

Be sure to tune in to the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards on Sunday, May 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. And check MTV News for all your updates on the big show.

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