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'Thirteen'

Teenage Girls Gone Wild

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

By Marcy Dermansky

Thirteen Nikki Reed Evan Rachel Wood

Nikki Reed and Evan Rachel Wood in "Thirteen."

Watching Catherine Hardwicke's Thirteen is not an easy experience. At the screening room, I constantly shielded my eyes and looked over at my companion, nervously giggling as the amazing young actress Evan Rachel Wood spiraled furiously out of control before our eyes. You try watching a desperately distraught thirteen-year-old poking repeatedly at her arm with a razor blade.

Thirteen is like that from start to end: a strange, guilty thrill ride—-akin to reading someone's journal or spying through their open door, looking in on someone else's private business, spellbound.

When the film begins, Tracy (Wood) is a good girl, blond and wispy, angelic in appearance. She writes poetry and loves her mother, despite their differences. She has a girlish bedroom filled with stuffed animals. But when Tracy enters the seventh grade, she becomes enamored with the hottest girl in middle school, Evie Zamora (played by Nikki Reed). Fearlessly, Tracy throws herself into the project of befriending Evie, of becoming like Evie.

It is painful to watch the often inexplicably furious Tracy lay into her well-meaning, helpless mother (Holly Hunter) again and again. It is titillating to watch Evie and Trace, wildly sexy, thirteen, and without boundaries, pounce on an older neighborhood guy, Luke (Kip Pardue), as they attempt to engage him in an afternoon threesome.

And it is plain scary to watch the transformed Tracy, with her skinny physique and her angel face still shining through, stoned of her mind, wandering through the dark streets of Los Angeles looking for her friend, guided by a man who is eyeing her pale, bare midriff and visible thong underwear.

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