Writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig makes an impressive debut with this darkly funny take on the life of a modern day high school outcast.
Hailee Steinfeld gives her best performance since True Grit as Nadine, a highly intelligent teen going through an awkward stage when her best friend (Haley Lu Richardson) starts dating her brother (Blake Jenner). Nadine is a practitioner of brutal honesty, which basically gets her ostracized at school and in trouble with her family. The only one who really stops to listen is her teacher (a hilarious Woody Harrelson) who actually has no choice given his profession.
Craig’s screenplay is first rate, and her directing results in some great performances. Steinfeld is good enough here to be considered for her second Oscar nomination, while Jenner (who starred in this year’s Everybody Wants Some) is equally good.
This one is drawing comparison to the best of John Hughes, and I would call the movie a good companion piece to The Breakfast Club. It’s good to see Steinfeld getting a role she very much deserves, and exciting to see a new voice like Craig’s on the scene.
Kyra Sedgwick is also very good in a supporting role as Nadine’s mother, while Hayden Szeto does excellent work as a high school boy who hasn’t mastered the art of properly asking somebody out (His performance is all the more impressive because he’s over 30 playing 18).
This is one of the better family dramas of recent years, on top of being a solid, funny comedy.