Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Catherine Hardwicke|
|Produced by||Jeff Levy-Hinte
|Written by||Catherine Hardwicke
Evan Rachel Wood
D. W. Moffett
|Music by||Mark Mothersbaugh|
|Editing by||Nancy Richardson|
|Studio||Working Title Films|
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Running time||100 minutes|
Thirteen is a 2003 American drama film directed by Catherine Hardwicke, and written by Hardwicke and Nikki Reed, the film's co-star. The film also stars Holly Hunter and Evan Rachel Wood. It is a semi-autobiographical film inspired by Reed's life at age 12 and 13 with Wood's character "Tracy" being loosely based upon Reed. The script was written in six days. The film caused controversy upon its release, because it dealt with topics such as drug and alcohol abuse, underage sexual behavior and self-harm.
Thirteen-year-old Tracy Freeland (Evan Rachel Wood) writes poetry and is an honor student at Portola Middle School in Los Angeles. Her divorced mother Melanie (Holly Hunter) is a recovering alcoholic and high school dropout, who struggles as a hairdresser to support Tracy and her older brother Mason (Brady Corbet). At school Tracy is teased by some girls about her "cabbage patch" clothes. Tracy tries to shed her 'little girl' image and pleads with her mother to purchase a trendier style of clothing. Melanie buys Tracy new clothes from a discount vendor in a parked van. Tracy is invited by Evie Zamora (Nikki Reed), one of the most popular girls at school, to go shopping on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Although Evie gives her a disconnected telephone number as a joke, Tracy takes a city bus to Melrose Avenue anyway, where she finds Evie and a friend at an edgy thrift shop. At the store, Tracy sees Evie and her friend shoplifting. Tracy begins to feel uncomfortable, and walks alone out of the store to sit on a bench outside.
She still wants to be part of what she thinks is the "in crowd". She steals a woman's pocketbook, which impresses Evie and her friend. The three go on a shopping spree with the stolen money. Tracy and Evie become best friends and Evie, having troubles at home, temporarily moves into the Freeland household. Tracy is angry about her parents' divorce and cuts herself to cope with the stress. She taunts Melanie's boyfriend, Brady (Jeremy Sisto), a recovering addict. Although Melanie is concerned about Tracy's changes and Evie's influence, she cannot find a way to intervene. Melanie doesn't ask Evie to leave her household because of Evie's claims of an abusive childhood. As Tracy steadily shuts Melanie out, she and Evie become very close, developing their own language. After the early thrills, Tracy finds her new activities add to her anxiety, including trying to emulate Evie's seductive behavior. Tracy gets caught up in a sexual relationship with a teenage boy Javi, trying to think of it as a romance, but he uses her.
When Evie and Tracy try to seduce Luke (Kip Pardue), an adult lifeguard in his early twenties and friend of her brother Mason, Tracy feels uncomfortable. Drawn at first into their kisses and allowing them to partially strip him, Luke pushes them out of his house. He leaves the neighborhood. One night on the street in Hollywood, Mason and a friend make comments about the thong on a cute girl; he is shocked when he sees she is Tracy, with a belly ring also exposed. Tracy and Evie had gone to a movie with Melanie and Brady, but left to do other things. Later on, the girls take turns inhaling from a can of gas duster for computers and become so intoxicated that they laughingly hit each other, drawing blood. Melanie is unaware of how deeply the girls have fallen into petty crime, drug abuse, and oral sex with teenage boys.
Melanie also hopes that Tracy will go live with her father, Travis, but she is unhappy at this thought. But much to Tracy's dismay, Travis decides he wants to take custody of Mason instead, to give him a more stable environment away from Tracy. After being informed she may fail seventh grade, Tracy comes home after school to find Evie, Brooke, and Melanie waiting for her. When the women confront Tracy about the girls' drug use and stealing, Tracy blames Evie, who first tried to blame her. Convinced by Evie, Brooke says Tracy was the bad influence; she moves with Evie to Ojai to get away. Melanie stands up for her daughter. Brooke pulls Tracy's sleeve up to show Melanie the cuts and scars on her daughter's left arm. Both mother and daughter weep as Melanie kisses her daughter's arm. Tracy tearfully pleads with Melanie to let go, but Melanie holds on tight. The two fall asleep on Tracy's bed holding each other. The last scene shows her spinning alone on a park merry-go-round, and she screams.
- Holly Hunter as Melanie Freeland
- Evan Rachel Wood as Tracy Freeland
- Nikki Reed as Evie Zamora
- Jeremy Sisto as Brady
- Brady Corbet as Mason Freeland
- D. W. Moffett as Travis Freeland
- Vanessa Hudgens as Noel
- Deborah Kara Unger as Brooke LaLaine
- Kip Pardue as Luke
- Ulysses Estrada as Rafa
- Sarah Blakely-Cartwright as Medina
- Sarah Clarke as Birdie
- Jasmine Di Angelo as Kayla
- Tessa Ludwick as Yumi
- Cynthia Ettinger as Cynthia
- Charles Duckworth as Javi
Director Catherine Hardwicke has called Nikki Reed a "surrogate daughter", having known her since she was 5 years old. The two began the screenplay as a comedy project which would be shot to video at minimal cost. The screenplay was written in 6 days and quickly shifted into a tale of early teen angst and self-destruction in Los Angeles, with Tracy's character drawn from Reed's own recent experiences as a pre and early teen. Hardwicke didn't think it would be fitting for Reed to play Tracy and auditioned hundreds of girls for the part.
After becoming aware of Evan Rachel Wood, Hardwicke came to believe she could make the film only with Wood in the role of Tracy and only that year, with Wood at that age.
Hardwicke has said Holly Hunter's agreement to play the role of Tracy's mother Melanie was a key boost to bringing the production together. About $2,000,000 was then raised, almost all through independent equity financing, a very low budget for any American film meant for general cinematic release in the early 21st century. Most of the adult actors were widely known and all of them reportedly agreed to low pay because they liked the script along with other members of the cast and crew. Wood and Reed were both 14 during filming (Wood turned 15 during the shoot). Most of the film was shot in 2002 in Los Angeles, California.
Their first audition together was at Hardwicke's house, which wound up as a slumber party that night. Auditions took place on a bed in Catherine Hardwicke's house, and when Hardwicke auditioned Wood, she had her get into her bed with Nikki Reed. The wardrobe worn by the girls was mostly their own. As filming progressed, the girls began dressing similarly without being asked to do so. The girls did not take any dangerous substances during the film. They are show smoking cigarettes, but these were filled mostly with catnip. The crushed pills they are shown snorting from the cover of a children's book were harmless dietary supplements.
All of the scenes in which Tracy cut herself were shot in a single day; Wood recalled running to her brother for emotional support between some takes. Wood later described the shooting of the scene in Luke's house as "awkward". The whole scene was rendered in a single, long and uncut take with Wood, Reed and Pardue, but was tightly choreographed with several crew members, social workers and parents also in the small room, carefully staying either hidden or behind the camera as it panned more than 200°, showing all four walls.
The movie was shot on lower-cost super 16mm film. The camera was small, had a Panavision lens and was mostly hand-held by cinematographer Elliot Davis. This allowed shooting in very tight spots, such as in the bathroom. One tracking scene was shot with the camera mounted on a discarded shopping cart, which the crew happened to find nearby.
Most of the scenes were filmed on location, with some on Hollywood Boulevard and at Venice Beach. The Freeland home scenes were shot at a rented house on Babcock Avenue in the San Fernando Valley. The many outdoor school scenes were shot at Portola Middle School in Tarzana, most of them on a single Saturday in searing heat. Many of the extras were students and a few were crew members.
Some scenes in the film were carefully and colorfully lit, while others were shot only with whatever daylight could be had. The shooting schedule was limited to less than a month. The underage actors could work only 5½ hours each day, closely watched by a paid social worker.
This made for a frenetic production atmosphere, which cast and crew later said matched the script and added to the film's fast and emotionally taut pace. The film stock was transferred to the digital domain wherein the colors and saturation were highly manipulated for some segments.
Thirteen was picked up by a major distributor only after production was completed. Because of the film's R rating in North America, the underage stars had to be accompanied by adults to see it at public showings.
Holly Hunter was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Both Hunter and Evan Rachel Wood were nominated for Golden Globes the same year, respectively for Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress in a Drama.
- Thirteen at the Internet Movie Database
- Thirteen at Box Office Mojo
- Thirteen at Metacritic
- Thirteen at Rotten Tomatoes