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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Thirteen

Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Holly Hunter
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Rated: R
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: August 2003
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Nikki Reed, Jeremy Sisto, Brady Corbet, Tessa Ludwick, Kip Pardue, Cynthia Ettinger, Jenicka Carey, Deborah Unger, Ulysses Estrada

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

Since THIRTEEN contains many memorable performances and is based on a gut-wrenching, true story, it is such a shame that director Catherine Hardwicke almost sinks her own film by her obsession with all of the bad tricks of digital video. The obfuscatory THIRTEEN pans so wildly and so obsessively that's it hard to follow the action. The grainy, washed-out images have all of the warmth and appeal of an ad in an old magazine left out in the sun. In order to pump up the edginess factor, the director insists on fast, choppy editing, which is such a waste, as the characters have so much to say to us.

The story is about a new seventh grader who is making the transition from Barbies to sex, drugs and stealing, thanks to the miracles of peer pressure. Evan Rachel Wood, seen recently and impressively as an innocent 12-year-old girl in LITTLE SECRETS, plays a 13-year-old would-be woman named Tracy, who is throwing her life away as fast as she can.

Wanting nothing more than to be popular, Tracy sets her sights on hanging out with the slightly older Evie, her school's top hottie. Evie, a bisexual devil, is played by Nikki Reed, who co-wrote the script with the director. In real-life, Reed was Tracy. Both young actresses deliver sterling performances, as does Holly Hunter, who plays Tracy's mother, Melanie. Mel, who has problems of her own, would like to be a good mother but suffers from a bad case of blindness and naivet‚ when it comes to observing what is happening to her daughter. Tracy cuts herself nightly in the family's one bathroom, does all kinds of drugs in her room from snorting cocaine to huffing inhalants, has sex with boys whom she has just met and steals things just to impress her friends. Her mother remains basically oblivious of all of this for months until she is forced to see it.

If you've got teenagers, especially girls, the movie will probably prove far scarier that this week's other release, JEEPERS CREEPERS 2. When I was able to ignore the oppressively pseudo-artistic approach of the video camera operator, I was quite moved by the story. But the movie could -- and should -- have been much better.

THIRTEEN runs 1:40. It is rated R for "drug use, self destructive violence, language and sexuality - all involving young teens" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.

Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes

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