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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 46:22)
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital Stereo
    English, English - Hearing Impaired, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Commentary - English
  • 10 Deleted scenes - with optional commentary
  • Audio commentary - with director and co-stars
  • Featurette - brief 'making of'
20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 95 mins . MA15+ . PAL


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Let's hit the town!
The new independent film Thirteen explores the volatile period of teenage life in incredible authenticity and flair. The tagline for the film “it’s moving so fast” perfectly encompasses the nature of the film and its subject. Young actor/screenwriter Nikki Reed combines with first time director Catherine Hardwick in an autobiographical look at her unstable teenage life.

Thirteen maps a year of teenage life for one troubled Tracy Freeland (played by Evan Rachel Wood, The Missing). Obviously unhappy living with her recovering alcoholic mother (played by Holly Hunter, Broadcast News), Tracy decides it’s about time her life changed, and sees the beginning of high-school a perfect time to do so. Casting aside her reserved group of studious friends, Tracy makes a desperate attempt to be seen by the revered Evie (played by Nikki Reed) – queen of the school. After stealing a large sum of money from an occupied woman, Tracy proves herself worthy of Evie’s friendship. Like all popular plastics, Evie is a terrible influence; introducing Tracy to a cocktail of drugs, sex and crime. All these rebellious activities seriously damage Tracy’s relationship with her mother, who clearly yearns for Evie to leave and for Tracy to simply settle down.

On the surface Thirteen’s plot seems to be the basic teenage film we all love to hate. However, provided Thirteen stars neither Hilary Duff nor Anne Hathaway, it takes a stark and realistic approach to the careful subjects and issues the film raises. Thirteen doesn’t move to glamorise teenage rebellion, making it clear that the use of heavy drugs and excessive drinking at a young age is a bad thing. The relationship between Tracy and her mother is the primary focus of the film, demonstrating exactly what can happen to the people you love when you cast them aside.

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Deep in angst.

The three lead performances from Evan Rachel Wood, Holly Hunter and Nikki Reed are fantastic. Holly Hunter received an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Tracy’s mother, a genuine loving person who simply longs for her daughter’s love and acceptance. Nikki and Evan prove to be two of the best young actors to surface since Winona Ryder’s young days in Heathers. Particularly Evan, who fluently portrays one girl who endures an incredible amount of change during one short year.

With a very small budget and limited equipment, director Catherine Hardwick has managed to produce a film of very high quality. This goes to show that you don’t need a lot of money to create an excellent film. Those who are interested in low-budget filmmaking will be rewarded, and hopefully encouraged by this excellent example of independent cinema. Having said that, Thirteen is certainly not without fault, suffering from the occasional melodramatic moment and some inappropriate camera work.

While Thirteen primarily deals with teenage adolescence, it can’t really be compared to any other films of similar subject. This is not a comedy, providing no comic relief or slapstick humour to break its emotional intensity. And at the same time, it’s not a film I’d want to show to your average thirteen year old, as its unflinching and raw edge is simply not appropriate for such young viewers. Perhaps think of Mean Girls meets 21 Grams, just then take out all comedy and you’ll get Thirteen.


To match Thirteen’s low, low budget; director Catherine Hardwick chose to shoot on 16mm film, rather than the much larger and more defined 35mm. 16mm cameras are far smaller and easier to use than their 35mm counterparts, however they produce a very grainy and generally low-detailed final image.

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"Chicken's are cool."
Having said that, Thirteen’s video transfer is very grainy indeed. This does increase the authentic ‘feel’ to the film; however it will prove distracting to those with large monitors. Throughout the various stages of the film, different colour filters are used, basically to convey the mood and composition of the lead character – for example, the final scenes of the film appear almost monochromatic, with a strong blue/grey filter used over the original source.

Given Thirteen’s print issues, it’s difficult to assess the video transfer. There appears to be no more grain in the transfer, other than that produced by a 16mm camera. Aliasing only appears infrequently, and it seems the transfer is void of any print or compression artefacts. Detail levels are at a low, and this will be very obvious on a computer or large screen – however again, this is a fault of 16mm not of this particular transfer.

In the audio department, we’re given a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Overall this is a very decent audio mix, reproducing the dialogue with great clarity and the music soundtrack in its original dynamic nature. The sub will burst to life during scenes with heavy music, which proves to add a powerful ‘force’ to the specific scenes that utilise it. However, there is absolutely no surround sound – at all! Your rear speakers will remain dormant throughout the entire film. This is a real shame, as this particular film would have perfectly suited a roaring rear-channel presence –to provide added depth to the music, or subtle ambient noises.

An interesting audio commentary from director Catherine Hardwick and co-writer/actor Nikki Reed provides some insight behind the production and writing of the film. This commentary proves very listenable, as both Catherine and Nikki appear to be very enthusiastic and proud of their final product. Actors Evan Rachel Wood and Brady Corbet also provide small appearances in the commentary. As an extra, the entire commentary is subtitled.

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A sprinkler party! With added speed...

A number of deleted scenes with appear on the disc. These can be watched with or without a background commentary from Catherine Hardwick, who details why each scene was removed from the final cut of the film. Your run-of-the-mill making-of featurette is virtually a long promo, with little substance for those who are interested in the production of the film.

Thirteen is a very good example of independent, or guerrilla, filmmaking at its best. A solid script and excellent lead performances from Holly Hunter and Evan Rachel Wood combine to create a film worthwhile of your time and empathy.

Fox have done an admirable job on the DVD, but have unfortunately fallen down in the audio department. Considering the nature of the film’s print, the video transfer is very decent. An interesting an informative audio commentary is the only worthwhile special feature, but it will prove rewarding for fans of the film.

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  •   And I quote...
    "This fast-paced, unflinching look at teenage adolescence proves there’s a clear future for independent filmmaking in Hollywood."
    - Nick Watts
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Onkyo DR-S2.0
    • TV:
          Samsung 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Onkyo HTP-2
    • Centre Speaker:
          Onkyo HTP-2
    • Surrounds:
          Onkyo HTP-2
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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