Thirteen Catherine Hardwicke

ThirteenCatherine Hardwicke
Evie Zamora (Nikki Reed) is the junior-high school equivalent of the girl with the most cake. The boys know it but most importantly the girls know it. Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood), fresh and new to this world, would like to get a little of what Evie's got. Disaffected and hungry for distraction, Evie is only too willing to oblige. The two cruise the L.A. trendoid shops, dress like rocker-girl strippers, take poppers and mess with boys. Why you ask? Well, they're 13. This fantastic independent feature by former set designer Catherine Hardwicke is that film rarity: a highly intelligent movie about teenaged girls. Shot with shocking clarity and style by Eliot Davis, it flings us from one emotion to the other without provocation — these girls do things that would make Iggy Pop cringe. The reason we are not repelled by it all lies in Hardwicke's trust of her material and the person that inspired its many disasters, co-writer and co-star, Nikki Reed. On the commentary that accompanies the disk, the two discuss how they were able to capture all of the conflicting emotions, strange rituals and general confusions inherent to a girl on the cusp of adolescence. And Reed is a veritable Coles Notes of contemporary girlhood. Hardwicke does us a great service by trusting instincts, Reed's as well as her own. The result is film that plays like a modern-day cautionary tale and not an after-school special. There are some superb performances here as well. Holly Hunter is sensational as the cool mom who is suddenly shut out from participating in her once-close daughter's dramatic change. Her hurt is palpable when she tells her daughter, "This is not the way I raised you to be." No kidding, lady. Evan Rachel Wood's Tracy, though, is the glue here. She is at once brave, messy and scary, and when she is on screen, which is much of the time, you cannot look away. Plus: trailers, "making of" featurette. (Fox)