Edge of Seventeen / When Guitars Were Illegal
One of the classics in contemporary American gay cinema, “Edge of Seventeen” recalls one high school student’s eventful and raucous coming-out during the steamy summer of 1984. Eric (Chris Stafford) is a 17-year-old senior from Ohio who takes a summer job at a local amusement park. Working alongside his best gal pal Maggie (Tina Holmes), the two idle away the days until Eric meets Rod (Andersen Gabrych), a sexy and openly gay college student. Soon sparks fly and Eric must confront feelings he had long suppressed. A funny, entertaining and insightful coming-of-age tale, Edge of Seventeen is enhanced by a great ’80s soundtrack (including Bronski Beat and Eurythmics), terrific period design and a high-energy, upbeat tempo, making this an exciting and original take on growing up and finding love.
1998 – Certificate: 15 – Rating Details: Some strong language, sex and drug use – American Film – 7.5 out of 10
In the early/mid 80s, punk and new wave disintegrated into a mostly horrible hardcore noise of badly played, pretend heavy metal. At the same time, 2 tone came, saw, conquered and quickly left. Meanwhile, the charts filled up with synth-based pop and whining, pretty-boys and girls singing about mostly nothing. (Unlike today, where it’s full of groups of boring guys with beards and guitars singing about absolutely nothing, boy-bands who get off on arousing ten-year-old girls, and wailing woman who are so heavy auto-tuned they may as well be aliens.) And maybe my memory is playing tricks on me, but actually I’m pretty sure that for part of the early-mid 80s electric guitars where made illegal, (unless you were the Housemartins). However, all these new bands were British. I can’t really remember what was going on in America at the time, chart music-wise, but as a source of New Romantic and synthpop it really doesn’t feature in my memory. I will admit to a certain, limited fondness for some of the music, but most of it wasn’t that good; but even Spandau Ballet had one decent song, (although the video should be certified X for fashion and pretentiousness.)
This film is set during that period and it has to be said it gets its look and vibe spot on. It’s a shame it wasn’t released until 1998, as otherwise it might well be remembered fondly in the same way as many real 80s films from that period are now. Maybe having a gay lead character in a teen drama would have been a bit too subversive for mainstream US cinema at that time. After all, gay people (including lesbians) are obviously the 80s equivalent of Islamic State, hell bend on destroying the status quo of everything everyone else holds dear. This film follows the same basic story as most coming-of-age films do, (but with added gay angst). It’s well made, well-acted and at times it’s genuinely touching; (i.e. it’s got scenes that are hanky-friendly). The ending is a bit jarring though and felt a bit out of line with the rest of the film. Maybe I just wanted more of a traditional, happy conclusion; (I think I must be going soft or something). For a movie about a young gay guy and the New Romantic scene in general, everyone really does come across as very typical and real. It would have been so easy for it to features lots of caricatures. Well worth watching.
This is a movie that majors on its soundtrack and with a long playlist of bona fide 80s hits, it contributes significantly to making the film what it is. I was pleased to find out that despite my declining years and way too many gigs, my ears are still good enough to hear Jimmy Somerville’s singing.
The trailer’s a solid effort.
Movie Weather Forecast. Warm, dry and sunny throughout.
Recommended for fast-food restaurant workers, New Romantics and any teenagers thinking of coming out.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? There isn’t one. Normally this is a sign of a potentially crappy movie, one filled with horrible characters, or one I was too drunk or tired when I watched it to remember properly now, but in this case it’s really a reflection of a lot of normal people doing their best. That in itself is badass.