Thirteen (2003)

I’ll start off by saying this movie was definitely made with me in mind. But that doesn’t mean it was a bad movie.

Tracy Freeland (Evan Rachel Wood) is a seventh grader in Los Angeles (or adjacent), living with her single mom Melanie (Holly Hunter) and brother Mason (Brady Corbet). As most teens, she’s embarrassed by her home life, and tired of wearing un-hip clothes to school. She finally convinces her mom to by some more trendier clothes, and they get her noticed at school by Evie Zamora (Nikki Reed), the popular girl in the class.

She’s invited to go shopping and Evie gives Tracy her number, which turns out to be fake. Undeterred, Tracy meets Evie and her friend at the trendy store, much to their surprise, and gets in their good graces by stealing a wealthy woman’s wallet from a bench outside. Evie and Tracy become inseparable and Evie exposes Tracy to her “fast” life of sex, drugs and crime. Tracy finally feels like she’s having fun and goes along and gets deeper into the lifestyle.

Evie convinces Melanie that her guardian is away and stays with the Freelands, allowing her direct access to Tracy to further corrupt her. They team up to seduce a much older neighbor man, ditch family movie night to go run the streets of LA, and encounter Mason out with his friends. They get home, start inhaling from a can duster, and punch each other in the face.

Melanie is at a loss with her now rebellious daughter, and is also distracted by her boyfriend Brady (Jeremy Sisto), who has just returned after a stint in jail. Brady adds to the issues with Tracy, as Tracy is not a fan of how Brady changes her mom when he’s around. Melanie tries to send Tracy to live with her father, but he’s to busy to help. Melanie than decides to confront Brooke, Evie’s guardian, after having not heard from her for two weeks, and discovers that she’s been avoiding her because of a botched plastic surgery procedure. Evie asks to be adopted by Melanie, who refuses, and takes Tracy home.

Later, Tracy comes home to Evie, Brooke, and Melanie waiting for her. They confront her about her poor behaviors over the past few weeks, with Evie blaming all of their behaviors on Tracy’s poor influence. Tracy tries to deflect it back, and Evie reveals Tracy’s self-harm scars. It is then that Melanie knows to accept her daughter’s side of things, Evie is moved away from the “terrible influence” of Tracy by Brooke, and Melanie and Tracy resolve their problems.

Like other similar coming of age stories – Kids from the mid-’90s, Booksmart more recently – Thirteen represents teenage life in a very raw way. There’s a lot of peer pressure to confirm and fit in, with the “bullied” person doing things out of character to try and get noticed. While the story is not necessarily shared by every teenager out there, it is apparently based on the teenage life of star Nikki Reed, who makes her debut in the movie (she would later go on to get wider fame in the Twilight movies).

Director/writer Catherine Hardwicke had known Reed for since she was five, and they wrote the script together. The movie was shot mostly on handheld cameras, and was shot over the span of three weeks. This gives the movie a distinct look and feel, and one that works well with the story. It made its debut at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and garnered award nominations for Holly Hunter (Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars and Golden Globes) and Evan Rachel Wood (Best Actress at the Golden Globes). Nikki Reed also received notice for her performance, winning the Independent Spirit Award for best debut.

I first watched this movie back in my time working at Blockbuster Video in the early 2000s. It was mostly forgettable, though I had remembered watching it when ranking it on FlickChart. Entering my rewatch, it was ranked #1230 on my FlickChart, and while it was an okay movie, I didn’t expect it climb much in the rankings after watching. It climbed to #710, making it’s move the largest of this series thus far.

Will it stay in that area? I guess it ultimately depends if some movies around it get re-ranked. Right now, it is sandwiched between Borg McEnroe and The King’s Speech, and some other movies in the range seemed out of place as it ended up there. Looking ahead to some of the movies that I’ll be watching over the course of the next few weeks, everything is currently below Thirteen, so it’s possible that if some of those will push it down. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Regardless, if you haven’t seen Thirteen, it’s probably something that you can skip for now until it cycles back onto a subscription streamer. I paid to rent it on Amazon Prime, and while I don’t regret paying for it (#content), I don’t think you need to rush out and do the same.

Until next time…

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