Thirteen (Fullscreen, Widescreen) product details page

Thirteen (Fullscreen, Widescreen)

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The reassuring thing about Thirteen is that it's not another Kids-style exploitation piece with ****** teenagers running around in their underwear under the pretense of realism. Instead it ends up being a one-dimensional cautionary tale told in an after-school special kind of way, like a super intense episode of Degrassi Junior High. Partly written by teenage co-star Nikki Reed and filmed with a constantly moving handheld camera, the story spins out of control just like its skinny blonde protagonist, Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood). The central friendship seems contrived right from the start because Evie (Reed) is a manipulative liar from beginning to end, making it difficult to see her as a fully developed character. Their sexed-up romping through L.A. says much more about the highly marketable Southern California lifestyle than it does about the realities of adolescent friendship. It may capture the quick pace of the whirling, confusing mess of being 13, but it doesn't require the viewer to become emotionally involved. The adult characters are more sympathetic, or at least more nuanced. Holly Hunter puts in a great performance as Tracy's mom, a wounded yet fun-loving single mother with too much love to give. As a vulnerable acceptor of Evie's lies, she seems to suffer the most. Even though Tracy's behavior suggests that she too is suffering, the film never reveals where her anger is coming from. Her self-mutilation and hatred for her mom's boyfriend aren't investigated deeply, just smoothed over with fashion, lip gloss, and accessories. Maybe that's the point: teenagers use their buying power to express their pain. Focusing on all things superficial must be part of an examination of contemporary youth culture, but this film barely goes below the surface. Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide