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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 29.07%
Just Average: 10.47%
Pretty Crappy: 8.14%
Sucks: 15.12%

3 reviews, 68 user ratings

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by Carina Hoskisson

"An unsettling drug-hazed look at teen growing pains"
4 stars

(SCREENED AT THE 2003 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL) Just how hard is it to be a teen in our saccharine pop-music MTV culture? Pretty scary according to Thirteen a new film that premiered at Sundance…

Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) is starting her first year in junior high. She still hangs out with friends from the neighborhood and plays with Barbie’s. Melanie (Holly Hunter) Tracy’s mom, is a bohemian hearted single parent who has forged a close relationship with her daughter.
Tracy decides early that she wants to be popular, no matter the cost. She strategically plans her ascent into the same group as the “hottest chick in school,” Evie. Because Evie is experimenting with drugs, sex and shoplifting, Tracy begins to act in a similar fashion exhibiting a shift in her morals and attitude. Melanie can see that her daughter is changing under the pressures of a new friend but is too involved in the rest of life to act preventatively. Their close relationship starts to strain under the weight of Tracy’s new actions. Soon her harmless experimentation leads to darker and more serious consequences.

Thirteen is the offspring of director/co-writer Catherine Hardwicke and her teenage co-writer Nikki Reed. Reed supposedly culled the story from her own experiences and those of her friends. Hardwicke worked with Reed to rewrite and tailor the tale. The result is a film that feels completely authentic. Nothing is sugar coated for an audience—there were a number of moviegoers who were visibly upset with events portrayed. I must admit that several scenes made me nervous. Hardwicke’s hard editing and fast clip add to the modern feel. But what underscores the movie is the gritty reality of adolescence. It’s a scary process that has marked each of us with scars. This is not the preppy world of She’s All That. I would hazard that this movie is very Californian in its feel and archetypes but that characterization doesn’t exclude it from a wider application.

Hunter’s portrayal elicits sympathy and allows her to exhibit extraordinary vulnerability. She is neither an absent mother nor an overbearing one. Melanie inhabits the real space of modern motherhood just as the movie explores real-time adolescence. The changes in Tracy baffle Melanie in the same way that teenagers will ever be a mystery to their parents. One thing Thirteen does very well is plumbing the deeply complex relationship between mothers and their daughters. Both Hunter and Wood are entirely believable. I’ve heard Thirteen compared to Cinema Verite. While the film is not technically Verite, Hardwicke has certainly found inspiration in the brutal truth theory.

Ultimately, I was alternately drawn in and repelled by Thirteen. Technically, Hardwicke displays a visionary style that could well herald the makings of a new Hollywood big-time director. The performances are genuine and very, very good. Still, the story is difficult and deals in uncomfortable subject matter. Perhaps no one can sit through Thirteen without their own adolescence flickering in the images on screen. It certainly brought out a tumult of emotions within the audience. I had trouble empathizing with Tracy and constantly felt like I was merely looking at her through a window.
Sometimes it’s even more difficult to sit through a movie when you recognize the characters in yourself.

I don’t anticipate this film to run away at the box office. Thirteen is sure to get distribution and gain some national exposure. It’s worth catching for the performances and the technical chances. Just don’t go expecting Can’t Hardly Wait.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6914&reviewer=44
originally posted: 02/07/03 16:20:24
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This film is available for download or online viewing at CinemaNow.com For more in the CinemaNow.com series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/07/16 David Hollingsworth Shocking and truthful depiction of teen girls on the edge. 5 stars
1/09/09 Anonymous. every parents worst nightmare. 4 stars
2/21/08 art A REALISTIC LOOK AT TEEN LIFE IN L.A. 4 stars
8/28/06 David Cohen If you think talkshows are high drama, this is your kind of movie 1 stars
8/19/06 Beau GREAT, evan rachel wood and hunters acting was outstanding 5 stars
4/01/06 matt Shallow messages, zero pacing, Holly Hunter has the acting skills of a pile of rocks 2 stars
3/13/06 Suzi good movie 3 stars
3/03/06 omar good movie but its the main reason i dont want daughters 4 stars
11/01/05 Mimi Terrific film. Very realistic and thought out. If you're a girl, see it with your mom. 5 stars
9/07/05 bac pretty good movie 4 stars
4/24/05 Me A great film 5 stars
3/09/05 Gray die you pair of worthless whores! 1 stars
12/13/04 Ashley Baker I thought it was a great movie. Although they should have did the ending a little better. 5 stars
11/23/04 Katie OMFG i frikin love this movie!!!!!!! 5 stars
11/10/04 Karlie i think it was great. I think all teenages should watch it! 5 stars
10/23/04 corey smith this movie is great i loved watching it is kinda what some of my friends r goin in to 5 stars
10/23/04 chantel i love this movie, i thought it was great. 5 stars
10/14/04 valerie hart fantastic acting from ALL of the cast worth wotchin kl teenage flick 5 stars
9/25/04 Tor Honolulu When You Can't Control Your Own Kids..next on Jerry Springer 1 stars
9/12/04 Rafael They're surely not 13, but the movie is awesome anyway 5 stars
8/13/04 Elena very realistic and daring, but lacking in plot unforunately 4 stars
7/27/04 Gray just what I need a melodrama about fucking loosers 1 stars
7/18/04 John McIntyre those girls are so not thirteen 4 stars
7/17/04 legend A shocking film on teenage girls with good performaces. 4 stars
7/16/04 Danielle It was the best movie i have ever seen in my whole entire life!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
7/15/04 toothpick that movie was awsome!!!and so were all the actors! 5 stars
7/13/04 Nic This movie went nowhere 2 stars
7/07/04 wildcarde1 making my 13 yr old watch it 4 stars
5/01/04 movie it was so weird 1 stars
4/12/04 Jean Wish they would just all come down...scary and good 4 stars
4/02/04 Ghetto Smurf Hey, Jade: You're a fuckwit :) 1 stars
3/29/04 Nicole im 13 and this does happen but you have to be some stupid shit to let it happen to you . 5 stars
3/22/04 Teresa the most amzing movie i have ever seen 5 stars
3/20/04 movieguy a great film 5 stars
3/12/04 Jade Gerrard The movie was awesome....hope thy'll make a nother movie ( "Fourteen") lol 5 stars
3/09/04 Amy A very "real" film and true to a lot of adolescent angst 5 stars
2/24/04 Julia Cox 1st half like SMELLY paint drying;last 3rd a hint of drama; then no ending. 1 stars
2/18/04 BB Thirteen is my favorite movie .. It's intense, deep, cool + funny [once you see it alot] 5 stars
2/07/04 Tori Loved it & thought it did really well about exposing the 'dark' side of adolesce 4 stars
2/06/04 Kristen G. At first, thought the movie was unrealistic; then researched. Not so unrealistic after all 5 stars
1/31/04 CB Movies like this hurt today's troubled teens even more. Does anyone care? 1 stars
1/20/04 Betty White Realistic, convincing teen drama; Hunter is amazing as the mother. 5 stars
1/12/04 S.D.S. This movie is great! it's a bit exajerated but it's brilliant 5 stars
1/06/04 George this movie really rocks!! 5 stars
1/05/04 Corey R. It seems like the director used this kid who "co-wrote as a gimmick for her own career. 2 stars
12/15/03 Meg why didn't the girl who "they said" co-wrote this, play the lead? 1 stars
11/25/03 Sonny S I knew this girl -and this movie is way exajerated. 3 stars
11/22/03 JD eh? 2 stars
11/17/03 Tweetie get real. 1 stars
10/07/03 R.Main Seen this movie before. Hollywood has run out of ideas. 2 stars
10/06/03 ownerofdajoint tough to watch but worth it 4 stars
10/04/03 john excellent attempt...catches a lot of the goings on 5 stars
10/02/03 Vivian I brought my thirteen year old daughter to this movie and both thought it was ridiculous. 2 stars
9/30/03 Lance Can I have my $8 back please? 2 stars
9/26/03 Corey R. It seems like this director used the kid who "co"-wrote as a gimmick for her own career. 1 stars
9/25/03 Meg Why didnt the girl who wrote it play the lead? 1 stars
9/13/03 Sonny S I knew this girl 4 stars
9/08/03 FrayLo I felt the same way after leaving American Beauty... which is good. 4 stars
8/29/03 --- In my top 5 of the year so far 5 stars
8/13/03 TZ Tried too hard to be "shocking!" way over the top. A bad version of "kids" or "manic" 1 stars
8/10/03 Carrie not very believable 3 stars
8/05/03 Lorenz Esguerra amazingingly realistic! 5 stars
6/13/03 JB blew me away... and spun me around a few times 5 stars
5/13/03 Pona This is an excellent film & well worth seeing - you could identify w/ the characters! 5 stars
5/12/03 tom bradley Best movie of 2003... HANDS DOWN! 5 stars
2/28/03 ash it was great, I loved it 5 stars
2/03/03 Charles amazing and profoundly disturbing, gave me the same feeling that i had after i saw Requiem 5 stars
2/01/03 Jenna Excellent film. Sheer brilliance. 5 stars
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  20-Aug-2003 (R)
  DVD: 27-Jan-2004



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