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It's happening so fast. 

Year: 2003 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Thirteen

Tracy (Wood) is an innocent 13-year old LA schoolgirl who hangs out with a couple of unpopular girls from her neighbourhood but desperately wants to be part of the cool group. When she notices that the most popular and beautiful girl is Evie (Reed), she sets out to try to get to know and impress her. She soon wins Evie over with the theft of a woman's purse, and the two become inseparable. Soon, Evie leads Tracy down a path of shoplifting, drink, drugs, piercings, and sex.

Tracy lives in a sprawling house with her former alcoholic and divorced mother, Melanie (Hunter). Melanie runs a beauty salon in her kitchen, and her house seems to be a drop zone for friends, acquaintances, their children and their needs. As her daughter's friendship with Evie develops from harmless experimentation into something darker, with more serious consequences, Melanie finds her daughter change under the pressures of a new friend. However, she is too involved in the rest of her life to act preventatively, and their close relationship starts to strain.

Debut director Catherine Hardwicke shows off her experience as a production designer with an accomplished piece of film-making. Reed's semi-autobiographical screenplay was written whilst she was having difficulty with Hardwicke dating her father, and is a mature, and at times, cutting, piece of writing. Her acting is also impressive, convincing as the bad girl Evie - in contrast to her real-life role of Tracy. Both her supporting actresses put in polished perfomances; Wood is excellent as the innocent girl who self-destructs into an angst-ridden teen, whilst Hunter portrays her character with gritty realism. You can't help but feel her pain as she seems unable to control Tracy and looks set to lose her.

Thirteen is a tough and brutally honest, if at times disturbing, look at some of the things that are happening to teenagers today. Not an easy film to watch but one that hits the mark with tremendous force, quite literally, from the start.

Alex Coe

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Screenings of this film:

2003/2004 Summer Term (35mm)
2003/2004 Summer Term (35mm)