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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 Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

This slice-of-life look at contemporary 13 year-olds is far more shocking than any horror film in recent years. While you may cringe at the girls' angst and anger, along with their sex, drugs and shoplifting, co-writer/director Catherine Hardwicke and her teen collaborator Nikki Reed score in tackling dangerous issues that need to be discussed openly within each family. It all revolves around peer acceptance and what a desperately geeky adolescent will do to achieve it.

The story begins as two drug-dazed seventh-graders play a brutal game of "Hit Me." Tracy (Evan Rachel Ward) is the vulnerable, insecure, self-mutilating daughter of a hard-working, recovering-alcoholic single mom (Holly Hunter), and Evie (Nikki Reed) is her sassy, seductive, socially sought-after and, therefore, cool best-friend. That they both come from dysfunctional families is a given but the ease with which one corrupts the other is appalling. Neither has a moral base on which to build any resistance to debauchery, and Elliot Davis's hand-held, digital camerawork with its quick cuts reflects their wild, rebellious lifestyle and unpredictable hysteria. Equally horrifying is their deft manipulation of adults, including parents, guardians and teachers, who see them spiraling out of control but are unable, or unwilling, to stop it. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Thirteen" is an uncompromising, harrowing 9. It's what Catherine Hardwicke calls "cinematherapy," based on psychiatrist Karl Menninger's idea of bibliotherapy, or sharing experiential activities. Problem is: the parents and teens who will see this bleak film together are probably not the families who need it the most. Nevertheless, theaters should pass out brochures from DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) with every ticket.

Copyright 2003 Susan Granger

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