Thirteen
4 out of 5 stars
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With a strong script co-written by then-13 costar Reed, this film takes a frighteningly realistic look at young girls who behave like out-of-control women. Tracy (Wood) is trying to fit in with the cool crowd, most notably the rebellious Evie (Reed), who her big brother (Corbet) informs her is the sexiest girl in school. It doesn't take long before Tracy and Evie are inseparable, illicitly piercing their tongues and indulging in all sorts of dodgy activity--shoplifting, drug use, sexual experimentation. While Evie's mother (Unger) is too preoccupied to care, Tracy's mom Mel (Hunter) is deeply concerned about her daughter, even though she thinks it's merely teen rebellion against an absent father (Moffet) and her young new boyfriend (Sisto).

While Hardwicke shows solid skills as a director, she can't resist rather overused (but effective) first-time filmmaker tricks like rapid-fire editing to show the teens' instant appraisal of each other, and colour-bleaching to hint at the draining emotions. These things are slightly obvious, but they're balanced by a crackling script and astonishingly authentic performances from Wood and Reed as teens who are trying far too hard to grow up. But Hunter is the real soul of the film--her fantastic performance captures small details in Mel that echo Tracy's journey ... but from another time and place. By the end we are right there with her in the overwhelming emotion of the final scenes. Throughout the film, the character interaction is so raw and exposed that it takes our breath away; the scene in which the girls aggressively seduce their neighbour (Pardue) is terrifying! This is one of the most potent looks at early-teens, and bravely tells it like it is, earning rightfully restrictive ratings that'll keep 13-years-old out of the cinemas! But then, most 13-year-olds will have no trouble sneaking in to see it if they want to. Whether it will speak to them as strongly as it connects with worried parents is another question.

cert 18 strong themes, language, drugs, violence 12.Sep.03

dir Catherine Hardwicke
scr Catherine Hardwicke, Nikki Reed
with Evan Rachel Wood, Holly Hunter, Nikki Reed, Jeremy Sisto, Brady Corbet, Deborah Kara Unger, Kip Pardue, DW Moffett, Sarah Clarke, Charles Duckworth, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, Cynthia Ettinger
release US 20.Aug.03; UK 5.Dec.03
Fox
03/US 1h40

Teens gone wild: Reed, Corbet and Wood (above) play grown-up, while Hunter and Sisto look on (below).
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... thirteen Onica5, net 4.5/5 "Being thirteen years old myself, I would say that this movie is extremely realistic and I'm glad that finally someone made a realistic movie about the way thirteen year olds behave, negative as it may be. I recommend this awesome movie to anyone, especially PARENTS who seem to not have any idea what is going on. The only reason I rate it a 4 1/2 instead of a 5 is because this movie isn't the most uplifting, if you know what I mean, on the market." (31.Mar.04)

Keneisha, Canada: 4.5/5 "Oh my gosh -- this movie is so amazing! Everything that happens in this movie, kids do. Im 13 myself, and seeing all this stuff going on just amazes me because these things are happening to teens everyday from all over the world, and i have been through it all and i was lucky enough to find help. I just think that parents should watch this movie too so that they are aware of the things going on and so that they dont have to find out the hard way." (5.Sep.04)

Raul, TX: 4.5/5 "I think this is one of the best movies ive ever seen about teenagers because its all true." (28.May.05)

2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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