High school. We all remember it—sometimes fondly, sometimes with a rush of anxiety, followed by relief that it’s finally over. Thankfully, most of us can look back on those tricky teen years and laugh about all of the drama, the heartbreak, and our utterly microcosmic world views. And it’s in that nostalgic, youthful spirit that The Edge of Seventeen (in theaters today) delivers its awkward yet lovable cast of characters, clothed in coming-of-age comedy fit for a social media generation.
Hailee Steinfeld stars as Nadine, a smartass 17-year-old outcast with just one true friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) and an all-star older brother Darian (Blake Jenner) who wins every popularity contest—even at home. When Krista and Darian begin dating, Nadine’s world is turned upside down and she spirals out of control, often turning to her cynical-yet-soft hearted English teacher Mr. Bruner (brilliantly played by Woody Harrelson) for advice.
For Steinfeld, who was still a teen herself when she filmed Edge, there was a lot to relate to in Nadine.
“There was so much that I was drawn to and so much I could identify with even though I didn’t go to a traditional high school,” Steinfeld, who was homeschooled, told InStyle at the Toronto International Film Festival. “I think that everyone, regardless of where they’re from or who they are, we all go through these life experiences. Time changes and modes of communication change, but there are certain things that don’t, and that’s first love or being betrayed by your best friend.”
The film is already being compared to classic 1980s John Hughes flicks, like Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles, and Steinfeld admits that The Breakfast Club is one of her all-time favorite movies in the coming-of-age genre. Thanks to Steinfeld’s spot-on performance, Nadine perfectly embodies that quintessential narcissistic teen protagonist who stumbles before finding her way.
“There’s quite a trajectory Nadine goes through and one thing that I really loved was being able to explore all these different feelings and emotions,” Steinfeld said. “She figures out sort of who she is and her place in the world and she goes from thinking or feeling that she’s got it all under control to realizing there’s a lot she has to learn.”
Steinfeld has also found her place, carving out a singing career in addition to acting. Her single, “Starving” has been a pop hit since it dropped over the summer and she’s currently touring and promoting her latest album. Steinfeld says her love of music and acting are equal and she is fully committed to doing both.
“I constantly am thinking about both singing and acting, regardless of which one I’m doing. So I’ve been on the road for a minute and I have this urge in me to go and make a movie. I’m lucky that I get to do both.”
The Edge of Seventeen opens nationwide Nov. 18.