“The Edge of Seventeen” is currently in theaters, and captures a realistic experience of a teenager who is struggling and on the “edge”. This movie is one that provokes thought and empathy. It provides an inside look at the awkwardness, pain, and frustration of managing emotions and negotiating relationships as a teen.
Teenagers are often viewed by adults and their peers in stereotyped, superficial ways, especially in the media.
What I found unique and valuable about this movie is it’s honest reflection of the loneliness, anger, competitiveness, and sadness in teen relationships.
The main character, Nadine, is a Junior in High School who is faced with loss, rejection and lack of adequate support from her only parent who is struggling herself. The drama and expression of Nadine’s inner struggles is at times humorous and dark, yet realistic. The loss of Nadine’s father many years in the past resurfaces for her when other losses and rejections occur, making them more challenging for her to cope with. She unravels after a painful betrayal of her one true friend and her brother, who become romantically involved. She seeks out the support of a teacher, whose role is subtle, but significant. Nadine’s idealized image of her brother, which creates distance between them, eventually becomes more realistic, lessening her anger and improving their relationship. The movie does a good job of capturing her ambivalence about choices and the struggle to find her way as she encounters and pursues relationships, learning, and growing from her mistakes.
This movie is rated R and may be inappropriate for younger teens because of language and sexual content.
I recommend seeing it together or separately with an older teen. If your teen does see it, engage them in a discussion about it.
Ask them what the message of the movie was for them and what they think about how the movie portrays emotional struggles for teens. Can they relate? Consider sharing your thoughts about it and what you may have learned, or how it might have impacted your view of teens.
And remember, we’re always here to help.
-Paige Oszmanski, LCSW