Nadine’s life hasn’t always been perfect. In a way, she’s the polar opposite of her brother. Her brother, Darian was well liked and had lots of friends. She was a loner and only had one friend, Krista. However their friendship was put to the test when Krista starts dating Darian, and her life just spiraled after that.
Nadine is a well-rounded character. She’s not perfect and her interests can border certain types of labels but she’s a relatable character. She’s a teenager who acts like a ‘cool’ kid - the type who would probably bloom in college because high school kids aren’t her people. She’s awkward around new and unfamiliar people, but outspoken and passionate around those she’s comfortable with. She feels like a real person, someone who embodied a part of us when we were her age. We all did stupid things that we want to forget or we regret. We didn’t know how to act around someone we were interested with. We were awkward at one point or another.
Hailee Steinfeld portrayed Nadine flawlessly. She was comfortable under her skin and sold the role – her awkwardness, her anxieties, her fears. While she took charge of the movie, she also worked best when she shared the screen with Woody Harrelson. Harrelson pretty much stole all his scenes, even if Steinfeld was holding her own. If Harrelson appeared on screen with another prominent character, they would have been washed out. His character was funny and sarcastic, and Harrelson played him to a tee.
The only problem I had with this film is the brother-best friend-sister arc: the source of the movie’s events. I had a problem with the way it was happened and resolved. I wasn’t really bothered with how it handled Nadine and Krista’s part, but my issue is with Darian and how he handled his side of the story. The movie paints him as a poster child – his parents adore him, people adore him, he’s dependable all the time, he’s into normal teenage things – a perfect child stereotype. He says some things in the end that were supposed to placate the audience to see his side, but it just infuriated me, especially with what happens after. At the start of the film, when the two women end up fighting, he voices out that he doesn’t want to get in the middle of things and leave them to resolve their own issues, without trying to resolve his own with Nadine. He doesn’t do anything to make Nadine see otherwise that he genuinely cared for Krista, it just happens and we’re left to deal with that. What he does to get his issues resolved is that he plays the pity card. He claims that everything he does is for the sake of his family because Nadine is basically an unmanageable person and his family would not survive without him. Because of this, he points out that he should be able to get the girl without it causing problems for Nadine. It made her so guilty that she ends up apologizing – but he doesn’t apologize to her, thinking that he was in the right side of the whole situation. How is the entire situation not selfish of him? He knew she had one friend, their actions caused a rift in the friendship and he does nothing. If the situation were reversed, would he just happily let his best friend date his sister, considering all things to be constant? What also irritated me was how their final scene went down. While both parties are trying to be awkwardly friendly, it was the exchange after Nadine leaves the room that triggered my irritation. They made it look like they were the bigger people in the situation. They were not, none of them were.
Despite my grievances with Blake Jenner and Haley Lu Richardson’s characters, Steinfeld and Harrelson’s performances, along with the non-brother/best friend parts of the story made up for it. This is a movie that I could watch over and over again.