Written and Directed By Kelly Fremon Craig
Coming-of-age tales can be hit-or-miss for me, because it starts to feel like if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, so they need to either differentiate or be very good at what they are doing. This is the latter, and wound up being something I enjoyed quite a bit.
Writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig’s story gives us a strong protagonist with charms similar to the title character of Juno, a crackling whip of a spitfire teenager with enough attitude to overcome the awkwardness that plagues most of us in those years. Nadine (played expertly by Hailee Steinfeld) always had trouble making friends and lost her father recently, whom she was connected to with bonds much stronger to those of her mother or older brother. When her brother begins to date her longtime best (and only) friend, it pushes Nadine past the point of personal control. She seeks comfort and direction from a teacher (an awesome turn from Woody Harrelson), someone who merges her own personality with the guidance she misses from her father. His sarcasm rivals her own and you she respects that. The script is as funny as it is emotional, and the actors to a great job bringing it to life.
The story may not dig paths to uncharted territories, but the journey is still a great one. The dialogue is raw and real, the struggles grounded and impactful, and the characters fleshed-out and believable. All around, I had a great time watching this.
Currently available on Netflix.