After tumultuous teenage years on her own, 15-year-old Nikki
Reed teamed up with family friend Catherine Hardwicke to write the
script for “Thirteen,” a disturbing look into an urban,
seventh-grade arena full of drugs, sex and self-doubt. The recently
released DVD captures this seemingly far-fetched but gripping
downfall of two young girls.

Julie Pannuto

Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood, “Once and Again”) enters
junior high as a sweet, studious 13-year-old but soon desires the
attention of the beautiful and popular Evie (Nikki Reed).
Overwhelmed by a broken home and desperate to fit in, Tracy makes
drastic changes to her lifestyle by following the cues of her new
manipulative friend. Theft, piercings, make-up, alcohol and
marijuana soon transform the naive young girl into a much older
looking rebel.

Wood’s performance is multifaceted and intense, and
newcomer Reed is surprisingly convincing for having no previous
acting experience. Holly Hunter also stars as Tracy’s
struggling mother, Mel. Hunter is impressive as she copes with the
uncontrollable changes of her on-screen daughter and the eventual
realization that things have gone too far.

In spite of itself, “Thirteen” is still plagued with
stereotypical middle school drama in which the popular girls spout
cruel comments such as “who let her out of the cabbage
patch.” On many levels this story has been told before, but
this time the stakes are higher and the scenes more riveting.

The two-sided DVD offers widescreen and fullscreen presentation
with minimal extra features. “The Making Of
‘Thirteen’ ” is less of a behind-the-scenes
featurette than it is a brief synopsis of the film told by the
actors and director.

For more in-depth information on everything from dealing with
the film’s low budget to interesting facts about rules
involved when filming with a cast of minors, turn to the audio
commentary provided by Hardwicke and the teenage leads. Filming
techniques and the wide variety of music used are also discussed in
the upbeat discussion.

Ten deleted scenes are available with optional commentary by
Hardwicke discussing the motives behind each scene and why they
were eventually cut from the film. Her reasoning for removing most
of the early scenes is to tighten up the movie to expedite the
rising action of the story. One scene in particular, however,
showing the sweet side of Tracy before her adventures with Evie,
would have better shown the drastic contrast in her character if
included in the final cut.

Overall, sound quality is good for this disc, except for the
muted voices of the characters in the deleted scenes. Picture
quality is intentionally grainy and changes hues throughout the
course of the film, but strikingly achieves the chaotic atmosphere
it strives to create.

 

Film: 4 out of 5 stars

Picture/Sound: 4 out of 5 stars

Features: 3 out of 5 stars

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