Thirteen is not your boy-meets-girl, boy-loses- girl, boy-gets-girl no-substance teen flick, like The Princess Diaries. This film is an artsy, angsty cautionary tale of what all parents worry will happen to their little innocent child.
The film starts with two 13-year-old girls sitting on a bed, sniffing aerosol and hitting each other to see how numb they are. Then the film flashes back to four months earlier, when Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) starts middle school. Feeling shy and insecure Tracy reinvents herself to be more like the popular girls, namely Evie Zamora (Nikki Reed).
Evie is your parents’ worst nightmare. She is troubled, manipulative and she sucks Tracy into her world of sex, drugs and stealing. She befriends Tracy only after Tracy steals a stranger’s wallet and they use the money to go on a Melrose Avenue shopping spree. Evie and Tracy soon become inseparable. The girls get high together, meet boys together and steal together. Eventually, Evie starts spending weeks straight at Tracy’s house, drawn to the feeling of family which she doesn’t have. Mel (Holly Hunter), Tracy’s mother, reluctantly allows Evie to do this, as Evie sees her as the mother she doesn’t have. Eventually, Evie says she wants to live with Tracy’s family. Mel says "no" and this upsets Evie, causing complications between Evie and Tracy.
The transformation of an average "good girl" into a full-fledged adolescent rebel made an interesting, yet heavy, movie that was shockingly realistic at times. It seemed realistic when they snuck out of a family movie, used teen slang and felt the pressures many teens do. But it seemed contrived how Tracy changed almost overnight. Influenced by Evie, Tracy threw away her Barbies, stuffed animals and babyish clothes.
The handheld, shaky camera and discolored film grabbed our attention, like it was from a confused teenager’s point of view. Also the acting was impeccable, a good portrayal of peer pressure. For instance, Tracy thought the only way to make her life better was by making it worse. The tension is very real, between friends and between families.
Thirteen was co-written by 13-year-old Nikki Reed, who plays Evie. This gave the movie authenticity, as opposed to an adult writing from what they’ve been told or think they know or remember.