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Film / Thirteen (2003)

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Thirteen is a 2003 drama film directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who cowrote the screenplay with then-fifteen-year-old Nikki Reed. The movie is intended to be partially autobiographical, as it shows what much of what Reed's life was like between the ages of twelve and thirteen. The movie deals with the experience of girls just barely out of their pre-teens and getting into situations that would be better handled by adults.

The plot revolves around Tracy Freeland (Evan Rachel Wood) struggling as an adolescent trying to become popular, then becoming popular only to find out that the cost to stay there in morality and self-worth to be too high. Reed co-stars as Evie, Tracy's Toxic Friend Influence.

The film was produced independently and only picked up by Working Title Films after production had finished. Holly Hunter, playing Tracy's mother Melanie, received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for her supporting role. Evan Rachel Wood also received a Golden Globe nomination.

As with other disambiguated pages, finding other things with the same title is achieved by removing the disambiguating component from the URL. A.k.a the "2003" for this film.

This film provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Evie claims to have them, and it would make a lot of sense.
  • Adults Are Useless: Ultimately averted with Mel, but played straight with Brooke. Mel struggles to understand Tracy's behavior and is obviously at a loss for how to handle the sudden and extremely hostile rebellion of a child who has seemingly never needed much discipline in the past, but is eventually able to pull herself together and take care of her daughter. Brooke, meanwhile, is a self-obsessed and obviously neglectful guardian who is easily manipulated by Evie and remains completely blind to just how at-risk Evie is.
  • The Alcoholic: Mel is in recovery.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Evie is lightly implied to be Latina (her last name, Zamora, is Hispanic, and she once calls Tracy pendeja), but her actress Nikki Reed is of Native American descent.
  • Author Avatar: The story is auto-biographical and the character of Tracy is modeled after co-author Nikki Reed, who is actually playing her own bad influence.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Tracy loses all her friends, is left with a bad reputation, and is held back in school, but she abandons her destructive lifestyle, makes amends with her mother, and presumably gets her act together.
  • Broken Bird: Both Evie and Tracy. Evie has obvious emotional and family issues (though they're implied not to be exactly what she says, since she tells different stories constantly), while Tracy struggles with fairly extreme self-harming tendencies.
  • Compulsive Liar: Evie. She shows this tendency repeatedly throughout the film, but it comes to a head when she pins the blame for all her bad behavior on Tracy in order to appear innocent to Brooke.
  • Country Matters: Used by Brooke against Tracy at the end of the film.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Pretty much all of the main characters have one involving substance abuse, Parental Abandonment (through both divorce and death), physical and sexual abuse and other undisclosed issues.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The "Desaturated" variant. As the situation with Tracy becomes more bleak and troubling, the colors of the film itself become more faded and pale, as opposed to the more vibrant colors used earlier on.
  • Desperately Craves Affection: Evie, who immediately gloms onto Tracy's mother and tries to manipulate her way into their family, as well as very quickly escalating the intensity of her friendship with Tracy such that they are basically inseparable after knowing each other less than a week. When she learns that Mel plans to send her back to live with her cousin and isn't going to adopt her like she asked, she goes outside and has a sobbing breakdown.
  • Disappeared Dad: Tracy and Mason's father, who is divorced from their mother, is an infrequent occurrence in both of his children's lives and is not very invested in whatever is happening when he is around.
  • Downer Ending: Tracy is sold out by Evie on her thieving and self-harm. Evie gets aways with a mild Karma Houdini and is implied she'll continue her bad habits in Ojai. Tracy has to repeat the seventh grade, her genuine friends from the beginning have disowned her, and she has a bad reputation at school thanks to Evie's actions. The ending shot has Tracy let out a scream, indicating it's finally dawned on her what has happened.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The girls using a gas duster to get high ends with both of them left with visible injuries from slapping and hitting each other to test their numbness and Tracy nearly passing out.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Tracy has this reaction towards the end of the movie once realizing that Evie sold her out on her dangerous activities and the "hiding places" of all her drugs and stolen money.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Luke doesn't take much convincing to let Tracy and Evie kiss him despite their age, but when they try to escalate it to a threesome he seems to come to his senses and makes them leave.
  • Fille Fatale: Evie is very forward and confident with boys and men and is heavily implied to have hooked up a lot.note 
  • Fish out of Water: When Tracy first tries to hang out with Evie and her friends, she is initially confused by several things they do and ends up getting embarrassed more than once, although she quickly adapts.
  • Flipping the Bird: When sneaking out with one of the boys after Tracy tries to tell her not to, as she leaves, Evie flips her off.
  • Former Friend of Alpha Bitch: Tracy ends up becoming this after she tells Evie she can't live with her family and sends her back to her cousin. When she tries to hang out with her again the next day, she shuns her.
    • To a lesser extent, Noel and Yumi are this to a newly popular Tracy.
  • Freudian Excuse: Evie claims she was sexually and physically abused by her uncle as a child and that he only ended up doing seven years for his crimes, although it's never clarified how much of this is true given that Evie has a tendency to lie.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: "Tracy Louise Freeland! Conference time! Now!"
  • Grew a Spine: Mel, who finally stands up to her wayward daughter midway through the film.
  • Hidden Depths: Tracy displays this at the beginning of the movie, as she gets good grades and is even quite accomplished at poetry.
  • High-School Hustler: Evie.
  • Hypocrite: At the climax, Evie yells at Mel that she would not want to live in her house and claims that it stinks. This was after she had been a frequent (and eventual unwelcome) guest at their home and trying to manipulate her and Tracy into letting her move in with them. Plus, even if it was run-down, it was still in a much nicer neighborhood than Brooke's home, which was barely maintained and didn't even have a backyard.
    • Mason, Tracy's older brother, was disgusted by their Dad and the lack of interest he had in Tracy's problems, but still accepted a wetsuit from him. When she asked where he got it, his response was "Fuck you."
  • Incest Subtext: The scene where Mason checks out and catcalls Tracy, and regrets it when she turns around and he realizes its his own sister.
  • In with the In Crowd: After she "befriends" Evie, Tracy ends up this.
  • Ironic Echo: "Speak up, I can't hear you!" It was first used by Melanie to confront Tracy about her belly button ring and later used back by Tracy when her mother was speaking in a stunned whisper while confronting her about all of her behavior in the intervention.
  • Karma Houdini: Whereas Tracy ends up left behind in school, losing her real friends and with a bad reputation, Evie, who influenced her into becoming one of her "friends", gets to start over scot-free in a new town with her cousin.
  • Little Miss Badass: Tracy tries to be this towards the girlfriends of the guys that she and Evie were screwing throughout the year once they angrily confronted her. The only reason the potentially dangerous situation did not escalate is because the school guards found them and broke it up. Unfortunately for Tracy, one of the girls threatened that it wasn't over.
  • Mama Bear: Melanie Freeland protecting her daughter Tracy from Evie and Brooke.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Evie. And even to a lesser extent, Tracy herself.
  • Missing Mom: Evie and Melanie.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The most common interpretion of Tracy's sky-high scream at the end.
  • Nave Newcomer: Tracy.
  • No Antagonist: Evie is the closest thing to a proper antagonist the film has. But as the film goes on, the girls become a bad influence on each other, blurring the lines on who the real toxic friend is.
  • No Ending: Though it's implied that Tracy got better (she's wearing more age-appropriate clothes and overall has a "healthier" appearance).
  • One-Word Title: Title by Number, based on the protagonists' age.
  • Parental Substitute: Mel's boyfriend, Brady, is this to the two teens, even though Tracy has little respect for him due to his past drug use and the fact that he's not her father.
  • Pretty Freeloaders: Played with in regards to Birdie, Mel's recovering addict friend, and her young daughter. They weren't germane to the plot and spend much of the film in the way. Even Evie lampshades this when trying to convince Mel to let her move in, saying that Brooke would pay her "unlike the other freeloaders".
  • Really Gets Around: Heavily implied with Evie.
  • Remember That You Trust Me: Evie pretty much says this verbatim during Tracy's intervention.
  • The Scream: By Tracy at the end.
  • Self-Harm: Tracy deals with her stress by cutting her arms with scissors and later with a razor blade.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Evie seems to imply this to Tracy.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Deconstructed. Tracy and Evie do behave in increasingly risky and alarming ways, but it's clearly shown with Tracy and heavily implied with Evie that they're both dealing with a level of personal pain and stress that they're too young to know how to cope with in a healthy way, as well as feeding off and exacerbating each other's toxicity.
  • Test Kiss: After a few drinks, Tracy and Evie practice kissing and it escalates into a makeout for a minute or two.
  • Title by Number: One-Word Title, based on the protagonists' age.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Boy howdy...
  • The Unfair Sex: Inverted with Tracy and Mason; she gets in trouble for her drug use and promiscuity, but his drug use is not punished since it's only weed and their mother knows about it.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Tracy, who was initially a kind, innocent seventh-grader who played with Barbie dolls and wrote poetry.
  • Where da White Women At?: Tracy's relationship with Javi.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Tracy is this with her former friends Noel, and Yumi. And eventually is this with Evie and her group by the end.
  • Younger Than They Look: Tracy and Evie are only 13 (though their actresses were around 16 at the time of filming), but are constantly mistaken for being significantly older because of their clothes, makeup, and brash attitudes.