Thirteen (2003)

(In French, On TV, November 2016) I’ve never been a teenage girl, so allow me some slack when I admit that Thirteen left me cold. The story of how a good girl goes bad, this film further pushed my exasperation buttons by looking like a pseudo-realistic take on a mundane topic. Hampered by a naturalistic approach, a wayward camera and issues that wouldn’t be out of place in a preachy movie-of-the-week, Thirteen feels instantly forgettable the moment you’re not part of its target audience. Albeit respectable in the way it portrays the Los Angeles teen experience in unadulterated realism and a refreshing lack of sentimentality (apparently reflecting a number of real-life experience for the film’s creative crew), Thirteen is the kind of film meant to grate on nerves and leave viewers unsettled. Writer/director Catherine Hardwicke’s grainy super-16mm approach is not meant for visual beauty, even though the film does play tricks with colour and close-quarters shooting. (It does keep a neat trick in reserve for one long uninterrupted shot midway through.) I gather that there is an audience for Thirteen—so I’ll opt out of any further commentary and suggest that audiences for this film will self-identify.

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