The Edge of Seventeen Parent Guide
She learns the truth at seventeen
Parent Movie Review
In an award worthy performance Hailee Steinfeld plays Nadine, a frumpy high school junior locked into a very narrow perspective of life. From the outside, the teen could easily be accused of being narcissistic, angsty and skanky. Yet this coming-of-age story looks beyond appearances and explores the many factors that have contributed to her difficult persona.
One of two children, Nadine’s mother Mona (Kyra Sedgwick) has always favored her older son Darian (Blake Jenner). Obsessed with her own polished image, it seems Mona just couldn’t come to terms with her tussle-haired daughter, whereas Darian’s handsome charm fulfilled her parental expectations. Her father, Tom (Eric Keenleyside), sensed the situation and tried to compensate by offering her extra love, compassion and a fun escape on those tough days. But while Nadine was finishing middle school, Tom succumbed to a heart attack and passed away.
Left with a shortage of support and self-worth, Nadine’s only friend is Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), another loner she met during her elementary years. However, that bond is about to be tested too.
It happens when Mona announces she’s going away for the weekend with a dentist. At first thrilled with the idea of having the house to themselves, Nadine and Krista are soon dancing up a storm, eating anything they desire and guzzling down a bottle of booze. Darian also takes advantage of the situation by inviting some guys over to swim in the pool. The next morning as Nadine crawls out of the bathroom where she passed out earlier, she discovers Darian and Krista in bed together. Their unexpected alliance leaves Nadine feeling completely betrayed and a little suicidal.
With no one else to turn to, Nadine shows up in the classroom of her English teacher, Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson). While the middle-aged educator could be described as somewhat harsh and sarcastic, he has listened to the student’s laments before. And with the present circumstances being what they are, he suddenly becomes the only adult role model the girl can turn to for support.
Despite being marketed as a female youth drama (at our screening, the studio rep requested opinions specifically from the women in the audience), The Edge of Seventeen presents themes and lessons that are of equal importance to males and adults. These include the dangers of sexting, the silliness of believing you have to choose between two friends and the oft observed problem of single parents behaving like teenagers. In fact, if there’s a core message to this film, it is the need for parents to parent, rather than trying to be their children’s buddy. This is particularly evident as we observe Mona’s implied approval of having Krista regularly sleeping over in Darian’s bed.
The teen sexual behavior, along with other scenes involving detailed sexual discussions, and frequent profanities (including about a dozen sexual expletives), may leave some parents convinced there is too much edge in this movie. Still, for families reeling from loss or other traumatic events, the script may provide emotional depictions that ring with sincerity.
For parents with teens wanting to view this content heavy film, the best advice would be to go with them. Your life experience will be a great guide as they look at the script’s happy ending, and consider the possible consequences for the characters’ actions, which are ignored or not addressed. Perhaps the most valuable outcome of this movie may be an opportunity to discuss with your own children the challenges they may be experiencing as they try to navigate the adolescent years without going over the edge.Directed by Kelly Fremon. Starring Hailee Steinfeld, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson. Running time: 104 minutes. Theatrical release November 18, 2016. Updated July 17, 2017
The Edge of Seventeen
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Edge of Seventeen rated R? The Edge of Seventeen is rated R by the MPAA for sexual content, language and some drinking - all involving teens.
Violence: Schoolyard bullying is depicted, and a young girl carrying her lunch is knocked to the ground by a group of boys. Frequent verbal altercations within families are included. A father and daughter are involved in a car accident when the driver suddenly has a medical emergency—the accident itself doesn’t cause injury.
Sexual Content: A teen boy and girl are briefly seen in bed, he is seen topless and she is briefly seen wearing a bra. Sexual activity is strongly implied. This teen girl then regularly sleeps over at the teen boy’s home with the mother’s knowledge. A teen girl sends a very explicit text to a teen boy offering him sexual favors, he responds by accepting her offer. In a later scene the pair are in a parked car and he begins to fondle her breasts and move on top of her with the expectation of sex—she pushes him off and a heated conversation follows before she leaves the car. Some other scenes include explicit discussions of sex between teens. A boy shows art he has drawn where the hands of the character has penises instead of fingers.
Profanity: Profanity is used throughout, including the sexual expletive about 12 times. Other language issues include crude and/or correct terms for sexual anatomy, scatological expletives and uses of Christian deity as expletives.
Alcohol / Drug Use: While a parent is absent, two teens consume a bottle of alcohol between them; later one is seen throwing up in a toilet while the other makes the choice to engage in sexual behavior. Teens are also depicted drinking alcohol at a party.
Page last updated July 17, 2017
More parents' guide for The Edge of Seventeen after the break...
The Edge of Seventeen Parents' Guide
How do the various characters in this movie contribute to Nadine’s motives for making decisions? While ultimately she is accountable for her own choices, consider their influence on her, for both good and bad:
Mona (Nadine’s mother): After the death of her husband, how does Mona react? Is she still fulfilling her role as mother? What is she expecting from Darian? How does she view him differently from Nadine? What does her unspoken approval of Darian’s relationship with Krista tell us about her views of sexuality and her assessment of Darian’s maturity?
Darian (Nadine’s brother): What has happened to Darian’s life since the death of his father? How has this incident motivated his decision making, especially in regards to entering into a very serious relationship with Krista? How does he view Nadine? Is he ever overtly nasty or abusive to Nadine?
Nadine: How does Nadine see her family members? How does she view Krista? Is her anger toward others valid? What motivates it? What type of relationship is she seeking from Mr. Bruner, her teacher? Why do you think she is considering engaging in sexual activity with a boy she hardly knows? Why does she have a difficult time seeing the quality of character in Erwin, the boy she sits beside in class?
Mr. Bruner (Nadine’s Teacher): Mr. Bruner is sarcastic and somewhat annoyed with Nadine’s frequent visits during his lunch break. Is his response to her appropriate, especially considering his role as an authority figure? What are the risks he would take if he were to become more involved in Nadine’s problems? How do his actions protect her without him putting his professional career at risk?
Erwin (played by Hayden Szeto): Erwin is a boy in Nadine’s class who has a crush on her. Why? Why is he so persistent with trying to gain her attention? How is his desire to seek Nadine’s attention different than those of the boy she sent the explicit text to? What do we learn about Erwin after Nadine visits his home?
When you view The Edge of Seventeen you may recall the poignant lyrics in Janis Ian’s song “At Seventeen” from the 1970s.
The most recent home video release of The Edge of Seventeen movie is February 14, 2017. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes: The Edge of Seventeen
Release Date: 14 February 2017
The Edge of Seventeen releases to home video (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy) with the following special features:
- Actor and Filmmaker Roundtable
- Gag Reel