FBMR - Thirteen
Film-Buff Movie Reviews

THIRTEEN (2003) ***

Man, sometimes I just donít get girls. Guys I get Ö girls, not so much. Guys can be mean to each other, sure. Guys can pressure one another and be bad influences on each other just like girls can. But if a guy doesnít like you, either you know it or at least youíre not duped into thinking youíre a friend just to be humiliated and destroyed. Girls on the other hand Ö I just donít get. They can turn it on, they can turn it off, all on the turn of a dime. One day youíre a best friend, the next they donít know you exist unless itís to take the blame. They can cry, lie through their teeth, use extreme mood swings to try to get what they want from those older. Rarely do you see teenage guys exhibit this kind of behaviour, they just end up trying to act tough or cool or dumb, and that apparently is much less effective. These thirteen year old girls do it all, not to mention steal, cheat, drink, do drugs, and flirt with promiscuity. I know itís not limited to lower income families, but it seems to be a rampant stereotype. One thing I couldnít wrap my brain around was the fact that these girls were supposed to be thirteen years old. They looked older (even with out the make-up and wardrobe). This movie could have been called Fifteen or Sixteen and still have been effective. Thirteen is a strange age, though. Youíre old enough to truly know the difference between right and wrong, youíre very aware of that, but are still very easily swayed to the dark side because they have no concept of the potentially harmful long term effects any of their negative actions my have.

This movie reminded me of Larry Clarkís KIDS but didnít have the brief moments of comic relief, as much as it was uncomfortable. This movie showed more of the downward spiral that can occur when naÔve and impressionable teens succumb to their peers. Like I said, I know itís not limited to lower income families, nor is it limited to troubled, complicated single-parent families Ö but that usually doesnít help the situation. Abuse (physical, verbal, emotional, spiritual) and neglect often lead to rebellion. Sometimes this rebellion is simply a phase, but sometimes it isnít.

This movie seemed quite realistic, likely based on similar experiences and/or witnessed by the writers Catherine Hardwicke, who also directed the film, and Nikki Reed. Reed plays Evie, the bad seed whom the girls want to be like and the guys drool over. Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood), in a rush to grow up and belong wants desperately to be with the ďin crowdĒ and will go to almost any length to do so. Once in, her downward spiral continues. I never really buy anything that Evie says or does Ö sheís a master manipulator. Others can see it, but donít seem to have the strength to do anything about it. What is interesting is seeing how Mason (Brady Corbett), Tracyís slightly older brother, who at first was quite taken by Evieís presence, quickly sees right through it and becomes annoyed with her juvenile antics. But he too has his problems. In fact, I think everyone in this film has problems.

The acting is solid, the story very poignant and revealing. Itís a must see for teenagers as well as parents of teenagers. Sometimes it takes stepping back and looking into that fishbowl to see what is really, what could really be going on. And hopefully fewer people will fall into this trap.

I know this sounds more like a sociological study than a movie review, but what can I say Ö the movie must have spoken to me. Well done!