Coming-of-Age School Double Bill

With pupils across the country panicking about exam results, what better time to check out a couple of school-based teen films that sympathise with their plight. Only with much better looking pupils.

In The Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon Craig, 2016) high school junior Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) is a bit miffed when her cooler, more popular older brother starts dating her best friend. Feeling increasingly isolated, she lashes out at those around her, before learning a few truths about herself and her life. As 'nobody understands me' teen fare, this doesn't do much with a tried-and-tested formula - unrequited crushes, accidental texts, awkward romance, uncomfortable sex and general teen angst are all present and correct. But it's well-observed, sharply-scripted and well-played by the young cast. The multi-talented Steinfeld makes for a likeable lead, equally comfortable with both the comic and dramatic elements, whilst Woody Harrelson (as a sardonic teacher) and Kyra Sedwick (as her despairing mother) give good support. It's no classic, but it's a sweet and enjoyable film - it did make me feel old, but also glad not to be young again.
Grade: B+

Handsome Devil (John Butler, 2017) is not quite as polished a film, but it too is a nicely-observed and warm film, which has proven a hit with Irish audiences in particular. Set in a posh Irish boarding school, sensitive loner Ned (Fionn O'Shea) is bullied for not being a rugby-loving lad like the rest of the school. He is aghast when he is forced to share a room with new student and talented rugby player Conor (Nicholas Galitzine), but soon finds there's more to Conor than meets the eye. As above, this runs along reasonably predictable plot-lines, but the performances (including Andrew Scott as inspiring teacher) help it along to a feel-good ending. The voiceover framing device was a bit clumsy and it could have perhaps been a little sharper in tackling the central issues, but it's worth a try. Try? Rugby? SeewhatIdidthere? That, my friends, is why I was so popular at school.
Grade: B

So to all students struggling with results/parents/friends/love/exams/relationships/all of the above, watch these and realise you are not alone. Then go and get drunk*

*only joking.

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