Maybe you’ve seen trailers for “The Edge of Seventeen,” a coming-of-age high school movie starring Hailee Steinfeld. The clips hint at the story of an overly dramatic teenager convinced she has it worse than anybody, constantly at the mercy of her incompetent mother and popular older brother. But, refreshingly, there’s more to it than that.
“I asked one of my friends the other day, ‘What do you think the movie is about?’ ” Steinfeld said. “Obviously, there are trailers out, and I’m curious as to what they’ve put together. And they’re so spot-on with what is being promoted, but it’s so much more than what that is, and I think that’s what’s special about this movie. Yeah, it’s a universal-themed movie, but there are so many things in it.”
Steinfeld plays Nadine, an awkward, sarcastic teen who feels like she’s on the outside of adolescence, save for her best friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). But when Krista starts dating Nadine’s brother, Darian (Blake Jenner), it puts stress on a family already struggling with the death of Nadine’s father.
Not as light and frothy as the trailers would have you believe.
But then, Steinfeld hasn’t had the typical 19-year-old actor’s career. At 14, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her first role in a feature film, playing Mattie Ross in the Coen brothers’ remake of “True Grit.” To pursue acting more seriously, Steinfeld transitioned to homeschooling in the sixth grade, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t have a wealth of experiences to draw from to play Nadine.
“Once I had left school, people my age and adults were saying, ‘Oh, you bypassed [adolescent awkwardness] because you’re at home,’ ’’ Steinfeld said. “But I not only went through those experiences in school [prior to beginning homeschooling], but we still go through them regardless of whether we are in [school] or not, or where we’re from or what we do or who we are.”
Just from her few months at the beginning of sixth grade, Steinfeld was able to recall a number of experiences that helped her relate to Nadine’s angst. A classmate purposely smacking books out of her arms in the hallway, receiving prank calls or getting made fun of for being oblivious to Juicy Couture all quickly came to mind.