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Thirteen (2003)

  Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Written by: Catherine Hardwicke, Nikki Reed
Starring: Holly Hunter, Nikki Reed, Evan Rachel Wood
Links: Thirteen on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on DVD, Buy on Video, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 6.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Ordinary girl, not so ordinary friend" - a review by em_fiction

Evan Rachel Wood plays Tracy — an innocent, straight-A 13 year-old girl struggling to fit in at school. She lives with her mother, Melanie (Holly Hunter) who runs a hairdressing salon from home, and brother Mason (Brady Corbet). Enter Evie (Nikki Reed), otherwise known by every guy as "the hottest girl in school". Tracy, sick of pampered suburban image, uses Evie as an inspiration to become popular. After scoring a hang-out date with Evie, Tracy resorts to petty crime, piercings, drugs and sex as ways of ridding her new self of her old self, but at the cost of the loving relationship she once had with her mother.

Thirteen, loosely based on the personal 13 year-old experiences of actress/co-writer Nikki Reed, is like a potpourri of Clueless (1995), Never Been Kissed (1999), She's All That (1999), etc. meets Requiem for a Dream (2000) (well, maybe not exactly, but that's the best analogy I can think of). It's generally a well-made, realistic portrayal of typical suburban teenage life while simultaneously projecting a disturbing social comment about teen hardship and peer pressure, but after watching, there was this recurring thought that was left lingering inside my head: "So what?".

Tracy makes her own conscious decisions, and they lead to her own demise, yet sympathy is drawn so tautly towards her. The only sympathy that I felt for Tracy was the fact that she had very little self-esteem, masking herself behind Evie's façade only for a few laughs. Perhaps I could even epitomise Tracy as a Shakespearean 'tragic hero', where a single 'tragic flaw' lead to her downfall.

Tracy's relationship with Melanie, her mother, is built to an extensive degree of intensity, and she is ultimately the most affected victim of Tracy's destructive behaviour, but even her — the most innocent of all Tracy's victims — my symphathy was still just limited. What frightened me even more was that these girls are only thirteen. That's just barely the age of a high school junior. These sad things happen copiously and relentlessly today, but I'm just not sure whether we necessarily need to pour our hearts out when we see it played on-screen.

Something else that annoyed me was the pesty filmmaking. For starters, the film is paced gratuitously at about a million miles an hour; I'm not saying that a fast pace is a bad thing, maybe not for something like an action film, but for a teenage drama all it does is create a mess in the character development. Another thing about the filmmaking that annoyed me was how it kept shoving everything in our faces (which more or less is just superimposing on the complaint about fast pace). It's almost like, if it lets us submerge into the sorts of people these characters are subtly , we might not get it, so instead, it has to use nauseating camerawork to zoom up on jewellery and body piercings.

The acting saves this film, and saves it by a long shot. The acting was definitely what blew me away. Evan Rachel Wood was simply stunning with immense control over her emotions. Nikki Reed is also great, especially for a first performance, but the turning point performance, without question, lands on Holly Hunter, who's versatility brings solidity to all the other actors, and to the film as a whole. To put it simply, if Holly Hunter wasn't in this, the film would've been about as impressive as watching someone eat an expired can of tuna.

Don't get me wrong, Thirteen is a good, engaging film. It would've been great if it weren't so annoyingly kitsch (which is an ironic thing for me to say considering I'm a David Lynch fan).

em_fiction gives this movie 6 out of 10.
Review created on Sat 27 Mar 2004

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Reader comments

  1. i really loved ur moive it made m ereliz that i sould smartin up befor i get in real shit!!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from jessica on Wed 25 May 2005 03:55 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 10.00 (1 rating)

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