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2006-03-30 12:16

What does it mean to be thirteen right now? It has always been the age when establishing identity, individuality and a sense of one's importance in the world become the imperative. But in today's world, the pressures on 13-year-old girls - media-fueled expectations to be sexy, gorgeous, cool and in control - have never been greater. Low-rider jeans, body piercing and petty crimes have become the outward symbols of a generation that is desperately trying to find its own spirit.

The story follows the transformation of Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood), who begins as a promising, pig-tailed student still playing with teddy bears and Barbie dolls. But when Tracy enters the hyper-sexualized peer-pressure cooker of junior high, she witnesses the power and hipness of Evie Zamora (Nikki Reed, co-writer of the script), who has become widely known as "the hottest chick in school." Ultra-popular, model-gorgeous and bewitchingly snobby, Evie represents everything Tracy suddenly wants, and needs, to be.

At first Tracy has no hope of being accepted into Evie's elite clique. She's got the wrong attitude, the wrong friends, definitely the wrong look. But Tracy learns to remake herself, step by step, into the ultimate ideal of a 2003 teen. She discovers how to do the makeup, the clothes, the hair, the act.

She cracks the code of popularity, gains Evie as a mercurial best friend, and even starts winning attention from boys. And yet, the further Tracy dives into premature adulthood, the higher the stakes get. She loses the closeness she once had with her hard-working mother (Holly Hunter), starts failing classes, and despite her seething hatred of her mother's ex-addict boyfriend (Jeremy Sisto), becomes a drug abuser herself. Despite it all, Tracy is still thirteen, caught in a whirlwind of emotion in which everything she does, everything she says, all that she wants, seems to matter in a huge way. And...she still has her whole life in front of her.

What the critics are saying:

"Thirteen is to parents what The Exorcist once was to teenagers: terrifying. What makes it even more unsettling is the fact that it's based on Nikki Reed's own experiences."
- Stella Papamichael, BBCi

"...simply for those who admire fine, focused acting and writing; Thirteen sets a technical problem that seems insoluble, and meets it brilliantly..."
- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"...a superbly textured -- if often disturbing -- drama. It feels like real life unfolding before your eyes."
- Desson Howe, Washington Post

A gritty and uncompromising journey 'behind the scenes' in the lives of two ordinary thirteen-year-old girls. Co-written by one of the girls, the movie pulls no punches in its exploration of the dark world of high school cliques, crushing peer pressure, self-mutilation and drug use.

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