movie film review | chris tookey


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  Thirteen Review
Tookey's Rating
6 /10
Average Rating
7.56 /10
Tracy: Evan Rachel Wood (pictured left), Melanie: Holly Hunter
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Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Written by: Catherine Hardwicke and Nikki Reed

Released: 2003
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: US/GB
Length: 95

Authentically grim depiction of being 13.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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One of the refreshing, if worrying, aspects of first-time director Catherine Hardwicke's Thirteen is that it shows how powerless parents can be against the background of a corrupting culture.

It's a very cautionary tale about an innocent, impressionable thirteen year-old (gut-wrenchingly played by Evan Rachel Wood, pictured left) succumbing to the extravagantly bad influence of a sexy, troubled girlfriend (played by the film's co-writer Nikki Reed) and taking to stealing, sex, drugs and sado-masochism like a duck to orange sauce.

I can't imagine who would wish to see this movie for pleasure, but it charts the heroine's decline with depressing authenticity, bleaching out the colours as she goes further and further to the bad.

Unfortunately, the storytelling is jumpy and unclear, and it's often hard to tell how far the naughty girlfriend is telling the truth about her family background. Holly Hunter, as the heroine's white trash mother, seems astonishingly unobservant and incompetent; and Deborah Kara Unger as the bad girl's guardian undergoes a character change towards the end (turning abruptly from a middle-aged, let-it-all-hang-out, American equivalent of Jordan into a more judgmental version of Melanie Phillips) which is not - how can I put this kindly? - entirely convincing.

Still, this is far less exploitative than other movies of this kind, such as Larry Clark's rightly infamous Kids. The script was based on first-hand experience, and a lot of it rings chillingly true. If you have a daughter entering her teens and you really want to send yourself mad with anxiety, you could give this a try.

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