The Edge Of Seventeen

Director: Kelly Fremon Craig (2016) BBFC cert: 15

Hailee Steinfeld is best known for her Oscar nominated portrayal of a revenge seeking daughter in the Coen Brothers 2010 remake of True Grit. Now her sparky talent shines as a confused teen in this smart and funny essay on the high school experience.

Given to spirited monologues and threats of suicide, Nadine’s hard yards to adulthood involves anti-depressants, booze, vomit, rejection, inappropriate sexting and stealing a car. Her path to enlightenment involves realising she must first change herself, if she wants to improve her life.

An early death powers her family’s dynamic with everyone dealing with the fallout in their own way. But the tone is light and there’s an absence of malice in a script which has heart enough for everyone. Haley Lu Richardson, Kyra Sedgwick, Blake Jenner and especially Hayden Szeto offer charmingly fractious support.

A deliciously dead pan Woody Harrelson plays her history teacher. He bats her away Nadine’s crisis with patient dry humour. It’s these scenes which provide the films entertaining edge.

@ChrisHunneysett

 

Barely Lethal

Director: Kyle Newman (2015)

High school tribulations are compared to water-boarding in this spy comedy. Well it’s flimsy but not quite that bad.

Orphaned teen assassin Agent 83 has been raised in Samuel L. Jackson’s quasi-governmental institution since a baby.

When a mission goes wrong, she’s stranded in Chechnya.

83 adopts the name of Megan and enrols on a student exchange programme to experience real-life in an American high school.

But she’s armed only with teen films such as Clueless (1995) and Mean Girls (2004) to guide her through the social minefield.

Hailee Steinfeld is nicely goofy in the lead and there’s sparky playing from Jessica Alba and Sophie Turner as fellow spies.

From the dubious taste of the title to the unconvincing slang and the weak riffs on superior teen flicks, none of the jokes carry a punch.

There are homecomings and house parties, killer heels and boy issues.

It all feels like the pilot for a TV show which will never see the light of day.