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  • Thirteen
    • Thirteen
    • Runtime:100 min
    • Release Date:2014-12-20 13:09:05
    • Director: Catherine Hardwicke
    • Genres: Drama, Romance
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Thirteen
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie could have easily been made for lifetime; there's only a
thin line separating the two. However, than thin line saves Thirteen.
What makes it different is that it has a raw energy and disturbing
authenticity that other movies fail to capture. This movie doesn't try
to be about what every teenager goes through, it's just a cross section
of what happens to some. This movie isn't flawless: there are spots
where the dialog seems forced or unrealistic, but my complaints are not
extensive. Holly Hunter, Evan Rachel Wood, and Nikki Reed are
absolutely marvelous as actors, a refreshing rarity in movies like
this. It's also quite symbolic, and these symbols add more to what it
feels like being this age. Pay attention to the color saturation, the
poster of Evie's eyes, doors. This movie is the source of very
interesting analysis. The first time I saw this, I was 12, and I really
liked it, and it reminded me of girls I knew, girls who were doing
things that the characters in the movie were. I'm 19 now, and I still
think it's pretty good, better than other movies out there about
teenagers/pre-teens, and this is coming from someone who usually
dislikes movies about this age demographic.

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A budget Indie film which suffered from hand-held camera-work and
unintelligible dialogue. However, the plot was OK and some of the
acting passable enough to make the characters marginally interesting. A
thirteen year old girl, Tracy, lives with her mother and several
siblings in Hollywood. The separated father is too busy at work to look
after the children, and the mother's current lover is a junkie, so
Tracy doesn't get on with him. At school, where neither discipline,
civics nor social skills are on the curriculum, Tracy wants to get in
the circuit of Evie, the hottest girl in school. She does this by
joining a shoplifting spree. Evie proves to be seriously disturbed and
highly manipulative, eventually moving in with Tracy, ostensibly to get
away from an abusive household. However nothing anybody says is ever
likely to be true, and in any case is usually just two words. Nothing
much happens as the two girls rapidly go downhill, eventually being
forcibly separated. Whether Tracy sees the error of her ways is
unclear; Evie goes on manipulating. Generally a seriously depressing
portrait of young Americans for whom responsibility is an unknown word.
The worrying thing was that the story reflect the life of the writer
and director. One suspects early spanked bottoms would have been in
order.

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Amazing film. Having read about seven pages of comments here, some
written by kids-some of whom recognize the behavior of some of their
peers in Evie (Nikki Reed) and Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) and some who
naively dismiss behavior of which they don't know-I think many have
missed the point of this film. I think this sort of thing happens all
over the States and United Kingdom (I speak of them only because I've
lived in both of those countries). Having been a teacher in the States,
I've seen this sort of thing. Kids-regardless of how smart they
are-dealing with complex home lives, peer pressure, and puberty-can
easily be so shaped by those forces that they become susceptible to
some of the temptations which Tracy and Evie face.

The plot revolves around young Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) who is coming
to terms with returning to school and wanting to fit in, her mother's
relationship with a fellow recovering addict, and hormones. These, and
the presence of the charismatic, compulsive liar Evie drag the girls
into a vortex of problems which they will not be able to fully
extricate themselves from.

The acting is astonishing. Holly Hunter is the epitome of restraint in
this role, finding discretion to be the better part of valor in dealing
with her rebellious child. Hunter's cool, and the degree to which one
can see her suspicions about the role Evie is playing in the downward
spiralling of her daughter play across her face, are testament to
Hunter's ability and sensitivity to convey subtle but certain shades of
feelings. Hunter endorses the old chestnut that less is more with her
performance in this film. Evan Rachel Wood as Tracy is a very talented
young actress whose depiction of an insecure, curious, sensitive girl
is also very nuanced. She was 15 at the time of filming and so many of
the same impulses might not have been too far removed from her real
life. Yes, much of the outburts of a 13 year-old involve screaming jags
and charges that their parents don't understand them, but Wood imbues
Tracy, particularly as the film reaches its conclusion, with depth and
one sees the realization that she really is lost and has no idea what
she is doing or why she is behaving as she is. Wood got more attention
when this film was initially reviewed, but I would argue that Reed's
performance is even better.

Nikki Reed's Evie is incredibly conniving for a 13 year old but also
very smart and Reed is able to convey these things very well. Her
character is extremely street-smart in addition to being intelligent
enough to throw the suspicions of a great number of adults off her
trail, at least for a while. Reed's conveying both of these
characteristics as she does suggests the ability of a very talented
natural actress. It is a shame that she has not worked more in the
intervening years. Supporting work from Jeremy Sisto, Brady Corbet, and
D.W. Moffett also warrants note.

The screenplay is based to some degree on the life of one of the
writers, Nikki Reed. How much she is responsible for the form and
structure of the screenplay is unknown, but if it is even just middling
amount, she is a writer to watch. Director Catherine Hardwicke who has
recently come to greater attention for directing one of the "Twilight"
movies. She co-wrote this screenplay and does a fantastic job here
coaxing fantastic performances out of Wood and Reed and the rest of the
cast.The soundtrack of the movie sets the tone quite well without
upstaging the action.

This is a movie that sometimes becomes scapegoated by people playing
politics with hot-button social issues who will allege that it is
provocative and nihilistic. This is not true. Yes, it depicts kids
doing things that many people with their heads in the sand do not want
to admit kids do. But kids do stuff their parents don't want them
to-whether it's as extensively as the two young stars of this film do
it or not-parents who are sensible will recognize that temptations to
which these kids succumb exist. Parents who don't believe their kids
could succumb to temptation have no idea how their kids will respond to
temptation, while those who monitor their kids' activities and talk to
their kids about the dangers of some of them, as well as remain engaged
in their kids' lives, will probably find that they will not be
blindsided quite as much by what their kids do. In any case, I would
recommend parents watch this movie with their teens and use it as a
jumping-off point to discuss the temptations to which kids are
susceptible (certainly in the US and UK). This is a great, gritty,
film, about the challenges of being, and raising a child in the early
21st century West.

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