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‘Edge of Seventeen’ is teen angst with bittersweet dash of comedy

Hailee Steinfeld confides in one of her high school teachers, Woody Harrelson, in “The Edge of Seventeen.”
Hailee Steinfeld confides in one of her high school teachers, Woody Harrelson, in “The Edge of Seventeen.”

What It's About: Oh, the mercurial mood swings and hormonal challenges of teenage girls. “The Edge of Seventeen” realistically captures the lingo and behavior of modern high school coeds, for a refreshingly-warm, coming-of-age comedy. The movie opens Friday nationwide.

Shades of a John Hughes movie, and really there's nothing wrong with that, especially if you are nostalgic for a bittersweet blend of earnestness and angst. Writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig understands how besties talk and how girls can sabotage their own happy endings.

Gal pals Nadine (Hailee Steinfield) and Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) have helped each other get through the minefields of high school. But when Krista hooks up with Nadine's hunky brother Darian (Blake Jenner), that causes a major rift.

Darian has always been the golden boy, while Nadine was the nerdy awkward kid sister, so the sibling rivalry is intense. Stressed-out, widowed mom Mona (Kyra Sedgwick) is at her wit's end.

To complicate matters, Nadine has a huge crush on a bad boy (of course), while a smart, awkward guy has taken a shine to her. Nadine unloads her unfiltered dialogue and inner thoughts to a cool teacher, Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson).

The film's laughs are earned, and the emotion rings true.

Performances: Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar nominee for 'True Grit," continues to impress as she matures into an older teen.

Haley Lu Richardson, memorable in her movie debut in "Bronzed," is also impressive, as is the young cast. Hayden Szeto is a standout as nice-guy Erwin.

Woody Harrelson makes every movie better, too.

What Works: The story zigs and zags in both predictable and unexpected ways, but it's never not relatable or fresh.

What Doesn't Work: Would Hailee Steinfeld's Nadine really be that unpopular? That's a nagging doubt.

“The Edge of Seventeen”

Stars: 3 out of 4

Director: Kelly Fremon Craig

Starring: Hailee Stanfield, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, Blake Jenner and Haley Lu Richardson

Rated: R for sexual content, language and some drinking, all involving teens

Length: 1:27

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