Edge of Seventeen – 1998 film

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I’ve seen Edge of Seventeen a few times.  Caution: There will be spoilers!  I don’t know how to describe a movie without spoilers.

The movie has an OK script and the movie can be a bit cheesy at times, but it was the much needed mirroring of my feelings about being gay and “different” that I needed.  The movie was based in the 1980s and features Eric, a teenager struggling with his sexuality.  He meets Rod, a confident and out gay man who Eric idealizes.  I saw myself in this film because I was also shy and worried about my sexual orientation and I had this feeling mirrored back to me by the character Eric.

Like me, his character goes on a journey of self-discovery as he pictures him and Rod being the perfect couple.  Of course, Rod sees things differently and sees Eric as just another gay guy to be with.  As Eric discovers that Rod is not as into him as he thought, he blames himself and feels ashamed.  His sense of gay shame comes bubbling up, as it does for many of us who feel like outcasts.  Throughout the film, Eric finally feels he is able to open up and explore his sexuality, partially thanks to Rod and his summer job that has him out of his normal surroundings.

However, his parents and his friend Tina become very concerned as Eric’s drastic changes are startling to them.  It’s sad that Eric’s coming out cannot be supported by his parents and best friend.  Eric confides in a new friend, Angie, who finally provides him the support he has been seeking.  It doesn’t make the process any less difficult, but you can see he desperately needs the support.  The process of coming out is not just one isolated incident.  It involves so many factors: social, emotional, etc. that take time to process.  Some people complain that the ending of the movie (which I will not give away) wasn’t enough of an ending because it didn’t tie everything up in a bow.  I, too, wished for a more concrete ending that was less open-ended when I first saw the movie.  But now I see that it adds a humanity to the film as life is not concrete or neat.  We also get the gift of imagining what might happen.  We hope for the best but also realize that certain things may always be a struggle.  This has been true for every LGBT-identified person’s journey.

There are humorous moments throughout the movie that make this “coming of age” drama have humorous edges.  The 80’s influence is definitely cheesy at times, but Edge of Seventeen is worth the watch for its tender moments and Eric’s relatable discoveries as he explores his sexual orientation and starts the journey of coming out.

~Patrick Tully

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