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Movie Review: "thirteen"

In just a little over two years, I will have a thirteen-year-old daughter.

That said, this movie was pretty scary, as it shows what lifestyle choices can do to thirteen-year-olds who fall in with a fast or wrong crowd.

Evan Rachel Wood plays Tracy, a smart 7th-grader (and you don't really even think about the fact that she's only in 7th grade till very nearly the end of the film) who falls in with Evie, whose mother has abandoned her and whose father beat her and who lives with a dissipated older cousin. Evie, of course, has the body of an 18-year-old and knows how to use it, and soon shows Tracy the "ways of the world", and drags her into a world of piercings, cutting themselves, drugs and casual sex, with predictable results.

Holly Hunter, in what must have been a very tough role to prepare for, plays Tracy's mother, and even though it appears that she has no idea how Tracy fell into this trap, you get the sense that the Hunter character might have been very much the same at 13. She's divorced with her only job appearing to be some beauty salon work she does out of her home; the ex-husband appears only once in the film, and he's a very detached dad who has some unspecified pretty good job (everyone in Tracy's working-class neighborhood ooh's and aah's over his car), and in about two minutes is in and out of her life. Hunter has a boyfriend, but he's no role model either.

This movie definitely makes you think about what kind of world we are presenting to the next generation. I know those of us in our 40's had distractions as kids, but we had nothing like these kids here now, with girls that age dressing like cheap hookers, and stealing hundreds of dollars without blinking an eye.

Nikki Reed, who plays Evie, co-wrote the screenplay with the director, Catherine Hardwicke (who's also dating Reed's father), and it may be more than a little bit autobiographical. Reed and Wood are both 16 and so appear a bit older than most 13-year-olds would, but they are still totally believable in these roles.

The film is shot in a very stark light, with colors mostly washed out until the climactic ending scene between Tracy and her mom, when all color drains out of the movie and it becomes black and white; this alone makes a powerful statement.

This film isn't for any 13-year-olds to see; but if you have one or are about to, you ought to see it. It'll open your eyes to a world you probably don't want to admit is closer to you than you think.

AYRating: *** 1/2

(Stupid Astros won today; so the Cubs are one game out of first place with ten to go; however, with Philadelphia's win over Florida, the Cubs also picked up a game in the wild card race and trail by only two games there)