Review: Edge of Everything (SBIFF 2024)

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What Is It About: Abby (Sierra McCormick) is a young girl who is on the cusp on turning 15. Her life is thrown out of balance with the untimely passing of her mother. She stays with her estranged father and his girlfriend, much to her dismay. She uses time with her friends as a way to avoid her home life and distract herself from her own grief, but still feels the same. It’s only when she meets a careless free spirit in the form of Caroline (Ryan Simpkins), that she begins to come out of her shell. As Abby spends more time with her, she experiences taking drugs and exploring her own sexuality. However, the more time she spends time with Caroline, her actions begin to have consequences with the people around her, including herself.

What We Think: When it comes to the coming of age genre, there’s not many films that come to mind that resonate with me. That isn’t to say I despise the genre, but it can be tough to view the world through an adolescent’s eyes from an adult’s perspective. I would still admire what I see, but oftentimes, I don’t feel as emotionally invested as I would like to be, or the way the film wants me to be. A few examples that broke through this barrier include Eighth Grade, Welcome to the Dollhouse, The 400 Blows, The Sandlot, Mid90s, Lady Bird, But I’m A Cheerleader, and Ghost World (Despite it being a tv show, I would still include Daria and Hey Arnold! as other good examples). Much of those examples featured adolescent protagonists as well as adolescents transitioning into adults, but each of them spoke to me on a personal level. Each of the films/TV shows I selected explored the complexities of growing up in less than perfect environments, the highs and lows of adolescent life, the naivety of the minds of teens and pre-teens, and the psychological toll life can throw at them in uniquely nuanced ways. Edge of Everything tries to tap into those themes in its own way and it doesn’t quite reach those heights of the above examples. This is a film that I appreciate more than I love it, though the film isn’t without its positives. For starters, the film is stunningly shot; I like how at certain points in the film, the camera remains static and allows the imagery to speak for itself. The performances from the cast are very naturalistic; each character acts and feels like a real person, and for a film that runs only at 81 minutes, I was never bored. Despite the short runtime, I felt that the film didn’t quite explore its ideas fully as it wanted to. With a slightly longer running time, the film could’ve expanded the relationship dynamic between Abby and Caroline as well as gaining more insight into Caroline’s psyche. I also think the film sidesteps Abby’s grieving subplot in favor of Abby’s night out with her friends spiraling out of control. The movie is much stronger in its first half, but I feel the movie loses its way in the second half, and the movie ends rather abruptly. I don’t mind the idea of things not being wrapped up in a tidy bow, but at the same time, I wanted a bit more out of the film’s resolution.

The film has the usual family drama conventions of daughter hates the stepmom to struggling father connecting to his daughter. The film isn’t breaking new ground, and I can appreciate the film for not being afraid to trying to embrace those tropes, though I do wish the film did more with them. Telling a narrative around the eighty minute mark or less is an audacious task for a filmmaker to pull off, though that’s not to say it can’t be done well. Before Sunset, Fantastic Planet, Ghost in the Shell (1995), Perfect Blue, Pi, Krisha, and Shiva Baby, to name a few, are excellent examples of narratives that tackle heavy subject matter and character complexities in such a short runtime to great effect. I believe a film like this can still work in the eighty-minute mark, but having it centered more on the flawed dynamic between Abby and Caroline. In many ways, the film felt more like a springboard for a larger narrative to be told, and if that was the case, I’d be interested to see this film be further explored in the near future.

Our Grade: B-. Despite the film’s shortcomings, I still appreciate the directing duo, Sophia Sabella and Pablo Friedman, for making a film like this. This isn’t bad for a debut feature, and I’m curious to see what the directing duo has up their sleeve.

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