Thirteen is a mainstream drama about teens and their troubles fitting in, but it has something that will draw you in and make you watch it. It’s fast-paced, so do not expect that this movie will drag on and on evaporating endless emotion-milking conversations (as they inevitably do). Nikki Reed who plays Evie Zamora actually wrote the script for this movie in just six days. It’s based on events from Reed’s life at age 12 and 13, and you can definitely feel that real vibe throughout the movie.
Dealing with such a delicate period in the life of a female teenager, it’s a bit edgier than people expected. I mean, we got two really young girls dressing provocatively and doing all kinds of illegal stuff. This might seem like jailbaiting or if you want to go full-on conservative, exploitation. However, I think that this is a movie about one of the most difficult periods in the lives of young women all around the world. And you can’t make a movie like that if you’re not willing, to be honest.
13-year-old Tracy Freeland is a sweet, smart, and naive young girl navigating the rapids of life without much experience. Her mother, a recovering alcoholic, is struggling to put food on the table while working as a hairdresser. Tracy is pretty much left to herself when she befriends Evie, one of the “cool” girls in her school. Soon, Tracy will trade her regular clothes for stolen fashion items, with drugs, sex, and alcohol all inching towards her. How will Tracy and her mother go through this is up to you to find out.
Reed and Wood were great here, with a lot of help from experienced Holly Hunter. Shot almost entirely on a hand-held camera, Thirteen looks and feels real. This was also a directorial debut for Catherine Hardwicke who went on to direct one of the most popular teen movies ever: Twilight. A movie that ended up in our Rabbit Reviews section movies so bad that they are good.
Granted, most of the people will find the behavior of these teens too edgy or as something that would be more appropriate for a college movie, but if you check out movies like Kids, Mysterious Skin, or Ken Park you will see that these things do happen. However, everyone who knows about them tries to hide the facts for various reasons. We need to talk about these things because this is the only way we can get over them. Now, if you’re up for a bit more upbeat coming-of-age independent movie exploring some of the same issues I recommend you check out Nothing Is Private.
A personal note here: I can clearly remember my first year of high school and my utter disappointment in almost everything in my life. I can still go back to the exact moment where I “decided” to let it all go. I was studying biology and I simply stopped caring for everything, including myself. Luckily, reality soon reared its ugly head hitting me with healthy dose even worse circumstances and I snapped out. Or at least I think I did 🙂
Fun Facts: The tongue stud that Nikki Reed wore in the film was real, but Evan Rachel Wood’s was not. It was made like a suction cup, but occasionally would fall off. Because of this, she ended up accidentally swallowing a few of them by the time the movie had finished filming.