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:: Thirteen

Some films are strictly fiction with a concept that has been created. It would be good to assume the same about Thirteen. Unfortunately, that is not the case with this disturbing movie that portrays the frightening reality of contemporary youth culture. It is partly biographical as it is based on events experienced by the films co-writer and star, Nikki Reed. A then thirteen year old Reed had shifted from a sweet child to a rebellious teenager almost overnight, discovering the world of drugs, sex, image-consciousness and self-mutilation. Her script provides a fascinating insight into what goes on and the pressures teenagers are faced with today.

Thirteen’s plot is very real, provocative, raw and revealing. It is a portrait of American adolescence in 2003. The stars are two thirteen-year-old girls who are out of control and will not be told how to live their lives. They are at the phase in their lives where they feel they know better and feel a cut above everyone else. Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) is a shy, promising, straight-A student who notices the hottest and hippiest girl in school, Evie (Nikki Reed). Evie is everything Tracy aspires to be; popular, attractive, confident and cool. After a couple of attempts to re-invent herself and adopt the correct attitude to win Evie’s friendship, Tracy succeeds and becomes Evie’s best friend. At this point the nightmare begins. Under the influence of the bad girl, Tracy’s manner drastically changes. It happens so rapidly in order to keep up with Evie, that her broken family, which includes her mother Melanie, played by Holly Hunter, cannot comprehend Tracy’s transformation.

Tracy begins to fail classes and becomes a truant at school, grows distant from her once close mother and increasingly imitates Evie in every way. She slides into a world of trendy new jewellery, cool hairstyles, low-rider jeans and sexy clothing and body piercing. Heavy drugs and alcohol begin to affect her constantly and she also discovers shoplifting, revels in sex and physical self-injury.

There is a lot of strain on Tracy’s family. Evie manipulates her way into boarding with them, telling stories of how it would be dangerous if she went back home and, together, they become abusive towards Melanie and her ex-drug addict boyfriend, Brady. As the girls grow wilder and more erratic, the household becomes mayhem and comes close to falling apart. Decisions must be made to save the deteriorating state of affairs and work at returning to normality.

Thirteen is more than just a story about teenage rebellion. It portrays their confusion and insecurity. A picture is painted of the moving themes of desperation and loneliness adolescents feel in a contemporary society associated with needing to be accepted and a longing to grow up fast.