After a blurred trauma over the summer, Melinda enters high school a selective mute. Struggling with school, friends, and family, she tells the dark tale of her experiences, and why she has chosen not to speak.
Robert John Burke
In New York City's Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.
An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids' point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.
At the edge of adolescence, Tracy is a smart straight-A student--if not a little naive (it seems...she smokes and she cuts to alleviate the emotional pain she suffers from having a broken home and hating her mom's boyfriend, Brady.) When she befriends Evie, the most popular and beautiful girl in school, Evie leads Tracy down a path of sex, drugs and petty crime (like stealing money from purses and from stores). As Tracy transforms herself and her identity, her world becomes a boiling, emotional cauldron fueled by new tensions between her and her mother--as well as, teachers and old friends. Written by
Wow. Talk about a train wreck. Of course I'm speaking in reference to the life of Tracy, the main character, not the movie itself. I give props to the cast and crew, they all got mad skillz. Now for a more intellectual look toward the dystopic view of adolescence and the loss of innocence.
Now that I've thoroughly confused old and young alike, here's the meat and bones of why I think you should see this movie. The movie captures the creation of the emotional rift between an adolescent girl and her mother. While the rift is eventually healed, the impact on the viewer is anything but easily forgotten about. The movie is shocking, don't assume that it won't shock you; these kids do more (insert ANY shocking noun here, i.e. sex, drugs, etc.) in a day than an average college student, at least a college student like me, would SEE, much less do, in an enitire semester.
Evan Rachel Wood, who plays Tracy, gives a (dare I say it about someone so young?) Oscar-worthy performance in her portrayal of an emotionally troubled juvenile. She captures the mood swings, the dark brooding, the joy of being that age perfectly. If there was ever a reason for being scared of having a child, much less a daughter, having a daughter like Evan Rachel Wood's character would be it.
Nikki Reed, the co-writer of the script, deserves notation for her breakout performance. Her acting was very good, considering that she has never had any experience in the field ever. Rather than detract from her performance, her inexperience in selling her character to the audience only added to the dark, manipulative side of her character. If she studies the art and craft of acting, she will be a presence in Hollywood for years to come.
Holly Hunter gives another stellar performance. Her character's balance, or lack thereof, between the enforcer of parental-rules and her desire to be involved in her daughter's life perfectly captures the connundrum of every parent. The climax of the film, featuring Hunter and Wood, reminds the viewer of the intensity that raw emotion can create when you put two amazing actresses together and set the pressure-cooker on Nuclear Meltdown.
Thirteen is a must-see if you are entering middle school, or if you have a daughter entering middle school. Better yet, go see it with your daughter; you will both be talking about it for a long time. I give it a whole-hearted 10 out of 10.
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