High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother.High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother.High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother.
Perhaps it is the intense and thoroughly committed performance of Hailee Steinfeld who started her film career under the tutelage of the Cohn Brothers in their remake of True Grit (oh yeah, and was nominated for an Oscar at the age of 14, although principle filming occurred while she was 13). Hailee so captures the angst of Nadine, whose name alone sets her apart, (Nadine was the most common name given to baby girls in 1958); that one cannot help but ache for her. Nadine carries the weight of the world on her shoulders and believes herself to be unlike any of the other kids who text each other about the tacos they're eating, and communicate in emojis.
She plays well alongside her favorite teacher, portrayed cheekily by Woody Harrelson who provides some of the best laughs in the film, as one might expect. Also of note, I think, is the quirky, lovable and downright cute performance of Hayden Szeto as Erwin. Erwin sits next to Nadine in class stumbling and bumbling his way through awkward repartee in the hopes of some sort of hook-up. But nothing is typical here, and the course that said repartee takes leads us into uncharted teen territory. It might also be interesting to note that the name Erwin was the most common baby name in 1918, which makes this Erwin an old soul, to be sure.
Kelly Fremon Craig has written a real gem here, and his first directing effort will earn him much critical acclaim, to be sure. The thing he does masterfully is take us inside the character of Nadine by giving us so many moments alone with her; moments when we experience in her stillness, in her eyes, and in her facial discipline as an actress the absolute bankruptcy of her isolation. None of us would want to be seventeen again, or ever; at least not her seventeen.
I am grateful to the studio, and to the Marcus Corporation for giving some of us movie lovers an opportunity to pre-screen this film that will be released on November 18th. I suppose they hope we will say good things about it and get others to go see the film. Well, go see the film. You will laugh, and you will need a few tissues, but you will not regret having spent a few hours walking in Nadine's shoes. Perhaps there is a little Nadine in all of us after all.
- Nov 2, 2016