Owen Gleiberman
June 04, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Edge of Seventeen

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
99 minutes
release date
11/18/16
director
Kelly Fremon Craig
genre
Romance, Comedy, Drama

We gave it a B-

Chris Stafford, who looks like a skinny, adolescent Jim Carrey, is a rather reticent actor, but in Edge of Seventeen, at least, he’s a stellar clotheshorse. He plays Eric, a Midwestern high schooler who moves through the summer and fall of 1984, acquiring, piece by piece, his own new-wave-harlequin look: Boy George hat, streaked David Bowie hair, Duran Duran vest and pantaloons. The louder the outfits get, the quieter and more poignant Stafford’s performance grows, and that’s because the clothes express what Eric can’t — that he’s gay, and that the announcement of such would capsize the expectations of everyone around him, notably his adoring quasi-girlfriend. This scrappily structured coming-out drama lacks the glib rhythmic proficiency of the recent Get Real, but it’s a film of deeper originality and feeling. It takes its tone of mournful defiance from Bronski Beat’s ”Smalltown Boy,” that great, quavery ode to the pain of liberation. B-

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