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The Next Reel • Season 11 • Series: Coming of Age Debuts • Thirteen (2003) D: Catherine Hardwicke


“Hit me! I’m serious, I can’t feel anything. Hit me!”

Catherine Hardwicke had worked as a production designer for nearly two decades, crafting the look for such diverse films as I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, Tombstone, Tank Girl, and Three Kings, before shifting her focus to directing. It’s not often the path people take, but clearly Hardwicke knew what she wanted and came at it with a unique story she co-wrote with Nikki Reed – her ‘surrogate daughter’ as she describes her – about life as young teenage girls. The film Thirteen immediately caught attention because of how hard-hitting it was with depiction of thirteen-year-olds engaging in sexual behavior, doing drugs, and self harm through cutting. It also drew notice for how raw and realistic it was, and that intensity helped put Hardwicke on the map. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we continue our Coming of Age Debuts series with Hardwicke’s 2003 film Thirteen.

Thirteen is a tough watch… but a good one.

As fathers of daughters, this film pushes many of our buttons and makes us generally uncomfortable from start to finish. That being said, we can recognize the power in the dark places Hardwicke takes her characters. And she takes them to dark places.

Evan Rachel Wood and Nikki Reed shine as the two teens. Wood plays the teen eager to gain popularity only to fall in with the wrong person who introduces her to life on the edge. Reed – who co-wrote the script with Hardwicke when she was only 13 years old! – carries the challenge of being the draw for Wood’s character but also the manipulation, lies, and life struggling in a broken home. The two teenagers excel in their roles.

Holly Hunter plays Wood’s mother and depicts the desire for friendship with the challenges of parenting to a tee. She rightly deserved her Oscar nomination and in our eyes, likely should have won.

What did we think of the dad though? We have a bit of an argument about how the script portrays him and if it’s realistic or not.

With unique camerawork, editing techniques, coloring, and more, Hardwicke more than shows herself capable to handle this story. It’s a tough film but powerful and worth watching. We have a fantastic conversation about it so check it out then tune in. The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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