“Oh my God, that’s so weird,” Hailee Steinfeld said with a laugh when she was reminded that she will no longer be a teenager in about a couple of weeks. She turns 20 on Dec. 11.
Fittingly, she looked every inch a stunning young woman, no longer the kid we first met when she made her major screen debut in the Coen brothers’ “True Grit.” The Oscar-nominated actress wore red lipstick and a blue one-shoulder couture dress.
Apropos to her transition, Hailee delivers a stellar performance in writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig’s “The Edge of Seventeen” that’s being widely praised by critics. In the coming-of-age comedy-drama, which has no less than Oscar winner James Brooks as lead producer, the Filipino-American plays Nadine, whose unhappy high school life became even unbearable when she discovers that her best friend is dating her older brother.
Variety’s Owen Gleiberman gushed, “Hailee Steinfeld has gathered confidence as a performer, and ‘The Edge of Seventeen’ is her breakthrough. She’s a fantastic actress, with a sharpness and verve that belies the catlike softness of her features. She’s like the young Elizabeth Taylor, with playful flexing eyebrows that italicize her every thought. Even when she’s just tossing off lines, Steinfeld makes Nadine a hellion you can’t tear yourself away from. She isn’t just the star of ‘The Edge of Seventeen’—she’s its center of gravity.”
Hailee, even in her interaction with a fine supporting cast that includes Woody Harrelson (their student-teacher banter is one of the film’s delights), Kyra Sedgwick, Blake Jenner, Hayden Szeto (playing an Asian dude who finally gets the lead girl) and Haley Lu Richardson, is in top form.
The actress benefits from the nuanced, realistic script of Kelly, who reportedly interviewed many teen girls as part of her research. It is also Kelly’s feature film directing debut.
“One thing that stood out about this script was the dialogue,” Hailee pointed out. “I have read contemporary pieces before, and I have always felt slightly confused by them. I was never able to figure out why. I didn’t know if it was like, oh Hailee would never do that or dress like that. When I read a period piece, I don’t think that for whatever reason.