Edge of Seventeen is a perfect complement to Get Real,
  although, the American film concentrates more on the process
  of "coming out" and its ramifications. Generally I get wary when
  movie makers set films in the recent past in order to create a
  cool soundtrack and have the characters wear groovy costumes.

          But in this case, I was swept along by the story. As it is
  autobiographical, Todd Stephens set the film in 1984 in
  Sandusky, Ohio, which is hardly an overused location for
  movies. Eric (the charming Chris Stafford) and his girlfriend
  Maggie (Tina Holmes channeling a younger incarnation of Meryl
  Streep) are off to work at the local amusement park (Cedar
  Point in real life) where they are relegated to the low spot of
  working as food servers. The doyenne of the eatery is the
  tart-tongued Angie (Lea DeLaria) and there are numerous
  other co-workers passing the summer. In relatively rapid
  succession, Eric meets the studly Rod (Andersen Gabrych)
  who makes clear from the start that he's gay.  Eric is flustered
  at first but finds himself drawn to Rod and before the summer's
  over, they go on a "real date"--burgers and fries at a drive-in
  and a romp in the sack at the local motel.

          Just when you think
Edge of Seventeen is going to turn
  into another love story, though, it detours into other areas.
  Summer's over. Rod returns to school and Eric finds himself
  increasingly confused. He has come to the realization that he is
  gay but has to hide it. Luckily for him, though, this is the era of
  Culture Club, Bronski Beat and Thompson Twins. He begins to
  adopt more flamboyant clothing, takes to wearing eye makeup
  and tries to dye his hair blond (it turns orange). Maggie clearly
  has fallen in love with him but Eric is so wrapped up in his
  newfound experiences he fails to notice. At a school party, she
  goes off to dance with someone else and a slightly drunken Eric
  begins to dance alone--prompting the guys there to question
  his sexuality. Cornered and a bit fearful, he runs off to a local
  gay bar (conveniently run by Lea DeLaria's Angie in one of the
  scripts few credulity-straining moments). Eric continue to
  explore his burgeoning "gayness" all the while pining for Rod,
  who turns out to be more Don Juan than Mr. Right.

          While this is low-budget, independent movie making,
  
Edge of Seventeen is above average in its handling of a
  delicate matter. Rather than just have the lead character come
  out and find true love, Stephens and director David Moreton
  focus on the growing pains and the price one sometimes has
  to pay when one decides to reveal one's homosexuality.

  As with
Get Real, this film's success or failure lies with its
  leading man and again a very gifted young actor has been cast.
  Chris Stafford is nothing short of amazing in this role--skillfully
  negotiating all the pitfalls and terrors, the emotional roller
  coaster of the coming out process. He dominates the film as he
  should and offers a beautiful, nuanced performance. Like Ben
  Silverstone, he is one to watch in the coming years.

          Matching him are three superlative females. Lea DeLaria
  is terrific as a sort of lesbian den mother and she displays a
  warmth that has hitherto been unseen in her stand-up
  performances. Even better are Stephanie McVay as Eric's
  mother, a salt-of-the-earth, sacrificing type who has difficulty
  accepting that she didn't do something wrong in raising her
  child, and Tina Holmes as Eric's friend Maggie who already
  appears to have the technique which allows several emotions
  to float across her face without uttering a word. One's heart
  goes out to her as she gradually realizes that Eric's interest
  in odd clothes and makeup and men is not a passing phase.
  She earns audience sympathy through understatement and
  quietude.

          As predatory Rod, Andersen Gabrych looks the role, with
  his buff body and dyed blond hairdo, but he leans toward
  posturing rather than performing. As this is his first major film
  role, I'm willing to reserve total judgment on his abilities
  though.
Edge of Seventeen is a welcome entry into the
  "coming out" genre of gay movies, in part for its unrelenting
  and candid examination of the gradual process one undergoes
  as well as for its strong central performance.

          
                  Rating:                A-
                  MPAA Rating:        None
EDGE OF SEVENTEEN
Copyright 2005 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.