Edge of Seventeen (2016)

When I randomly clicked on this movie on my personal TV on the flight back from vacation, I didn’t expect to be rewarded with such a touching, realistic picture. Edge of Seventeen is a coming-of-age movie centered on Nadine Franklin, who suffers from depression after the death of her father. It is a fresh yet down-to-earth film that depicts a very relatable character, one whom we can empathize with.

By age seven, Nadine’s (Hailee Steinfeld) family begins to drift apart. There are vast differences between her and her brother: while her brother is good-looking, open, and popular, Nadine is dorky, shy, and closed off. Nadine’s mother Mona clearly prefers her brother Darian over her, and Nadine’s only allies are her father and her best friend Krista, whom she meets on the playground one day.

At age thirteen, however, her dad passes away from a heart attack when he and Nadine are driving in the car, eating fast food.

One night when Nadine and Krista are both seventeen, they decide to get drunk, and Nadine feels betrayed when she finds her best friend in bed with her brother. Darian and Krista strike up a relationship, leaving Nadine feeling alone. She continues to wallow in her self-hatred, but there are people in her life willing to be her allies. And gradually, with their help, she begins to open up for the first time in her life.

Hailee Steinfeld’s brilliant performance only makes this movie all the more touching. It is shockingly realistic, with an extremely relatable character who struggles through the same emotional turmoils that we often deal with ourselves. We all have our own fair share of problems, and we must never learn to judge others until we know the full story– Nadine’s mother, Mona, disliked her own daughter because she couldn’t understand her– because she didn’t know the suffering Nadine went through after her father’s death.

Edge of Seventeen shows that there are people in the world willing to help– and that, despite the darkness that may plague our lives everyday, we must constantly reach for the light that is within ourselves that that is within our friends.

 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is truly a touching coming-of-age drama. I’ve always been a sucker for heartfelt movies, but this one particularly stood out to me. This film has a vastly optimistic view on life, and teaches us all to appreciate what we have. With its lively characters and colorful plot, we join Charlie as he navigates through life, learning about the joys of love, friendship, music, and writing.

Charlie (Logan Lerman) has always been a socially awkward teen, a “wallflower.” Suffering from depression, he has only recently been discharged from the hospital, and sets out to live a normal teenage life. While he is lonely during his first few days of high school, two charismatic kids, Sam (Emma Watson) and her stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller) notice him alone one day and take him into their friend group. From there, Charlie beings to grow, transgressing his mental illness and coming out to fully embrace and enjoy life. While not all of the things he tried and experienced were pleasant, they contributed to his change and emergence as a new and worldly person.

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Before high school, Charlie had seen a lot of sadness– the death of his aunt, as well as the suicide of his best friend, and the abusive relationship of his sister with her boyfriend. He came from a dark place, and couldn’t not see the pain that people went through. However, when Sam and Patrick befriend him, they show him a very different perspective on life. Instead of dwelling on the past, they lived in the moment. Sam even dares to climb out of the truck and stand in the back while Patrick drives, holding out her arms and feeling the wind blow through her hair. While they both have their own share of problems and homework, they still find the time to attend big parties and treasure the small moments– and slowly, their philosophy brushes off onto Charlie, and us as well.

‘Wallflower is a movie that many people can relate to. We’ve all been the wallflower, the observer, at some point– but we need to learn to step out of our comfort zone to truly appreciate and experience all that life has to offer, to find a place for ourselves in the world. There are people– nice people– who can and are willing to help us through our difficulties– but only if we make our difficulties known. Of all the pain in the world, we must believe that there is always more good. We must believe that the day will get better, and it will– but only if you’re willing make it so.

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So next time, don’t be afraid to stretch out your arms, and feel the wind blow through your hair. Brave through life with a smile on your face and your friends by your side. Emerge victorious from each battle. Don’t let the negatives you experience hold you back from being who you are. Embrace the happiness in each moment, and enjoy the feeling of infinity.