Catherine Hardwicke’s directorial debut, Thirteen, is a raw
drama about a teenage school girl who jumps from pony-tailed innocence
to hard-boiled rebel as tutored by the school’s bad girl.
Its objective is to tell the unvarnished truth about what goes
on in the lives of young teenagers. The story is based more or
less on the experiences of Nikki Reed, who is the films 14 year-old
coscriptwriter with Hardwicke.
At the center of the drama is the haunting performance of Evan
Rachel Wood as Tracy. Seemingly a well-adjusted kid, though coming
from a broken home, she lives with her mother Melanie (Holly Hunter),
a recovering alcoholic and struggling hairdresser, and her boyfriend
Brady (Jeremy Sisto). Parents planning to see this edgy film with
their teen daughters should have already established closeness
in their conversations. Leading the coolest clique at school is
Evie; whose mature-looks the guys have already noticed. To Tracy’s
surprise, Evie invites her to go shopping one afternoon (Tracy’s
hard-up mom buys her clothes from vendors selling off of trucks),
which turns out to mean shoplifting and stealing a wallet from
an old woman. From here, the usually reasonable Tracy becomes sullen,
insolent, defiant, drug-taking body piercing, poster girl for the
dysfunctional teen, following Evie’s example.
who always has treated Tracy like her friend, hasn’t
any idea of how to cope with her out-of-control daughter. Nor
is her workobsessed dad any help. It’s one of the reasons
why Tracy is able to drift so easily into bad behavior with
anorexia and suicide attempt. The picture gets many things right
including the way teens talk, but it doesn’t provide enough
background on why Tracy, who wrote lovely poetry and made high
marks, fell so quickly under Evie’s spell. Still it should
be seen! (R-rated; 95 minutes; call 777-FILM for times/places).#
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