After seeing THIRTEEN, I searched my mental listing of friends who have a daughter approaching thirteen, and to whom I could send a copy of this DVD with the needling note, "You'll be sorrrr-ry!"
Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) is an uncool 7th grader who wants to be like Evie (Nikki Reed), the coolest girl in school. Tracy manages to get Evie's notice by dressing more stylishly and demonstrating a willingness to engage in petty theft. Evie lives with a female "guardian", but manages to inveigle her way into the good graces of Tracy's Mom, Melanie (Holly Hunter), by concocting a deceptive story of physical abuse at the hands of her guardian's boyfriend. Melanie herself is a recovering alcoholic and single mother living beyond her means, but she allows Evie to move in with herself, daughter, and teenage son. Mel is so busy trying to make financial ends meet and satisfy her own emotional needs with loser boyfriend Brady (Jeremy Sisto) that she doesn't notice as her insidious and parasitic guest involves Tracy in everything on any parent's list of scary stuff: shoplifting, pre-marital sex, body piercing, marijuana and cocaine. And this is on top of Tracy's pre-existent penchant for anorexia and self-mutilation with sharp objects. Tracy is a real piece of work.
THIRTEEN is mesmerizing. It's like watching a slow-motion train wreck. Holly Hunter has received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role as the well-intentioned but clueless mother. However, I don't understand why Wood didn't get one also; she's brilliant.
The film can perhaps be characterized as the worse case scenario of what befalls an emotionally isolated child coming from a broken marriage. Certainly, most such young people emerge from the experience relatively unscathed. But many don't, and THIRTEEN is a cautionary tale that should be mandatory viewing in junior high schools, parenting classes, and social service agencies.
I don't have a pre-pubescent daughter. Let me get down on my knees and thank God.