Attended a screening of first-time director Catherine Hardwicke's debut effort, Thirteen. Hardwicke herself was on hand to answer questions afterward.
First things first: Thirteen is very good, as I've recorded elsewhere. Evan Rachel Wood (is this the same Wood from Once and Again?!?) is amazing and utterly convincing as a 13 year old girl struggling against her resentment against her divorced parents, especially her mother and guardian (played by Holly Hunter) and the pressures to fit in with the cool kids at her new school, especially the devious and delinquent Evie (Nikki Reed).
It's a movie that's a marketing nightmare for Hollywood, though. It's a movie which will appeal to teenage girls, but it's rated R. So you hope that their mothers will take them, but the intense storyline centered on a young daughter whose life is raging out of control right under her mother's roof and care is not a message many mothers will enjoy hearing. The male market will be difficult to tap because all the main characters are female. Early reviews of the movie, broken down by demographic, clearly reflect these challenges (admittedly the sample size is small as the movie hasn't opened wide):
Females under 18 rate the movie 9.0 out of 10.0 (parents should wonder why this movie speaks so strongly to them)
Males/Females over 45 rate the movie 1.6 out of 10.0
Surprisingly, Males aged 30-44 rate the movie 6.9 out of 10.0
Hardwicke, only 25(?!) co-wrote the screenplay with Reed in only six days when Reed was only 13 years old, and the events are based on Reed's life. Reed's parents divorced when she was just two years old, and she was raised in Los Angeles. Hardwicke actually dated Reed's father for a while, and that's how she met Reed. Hardwicke has worked with plenty of A-list directors in the past but struggled mightily to get financing to direct her own feature. For that reason alone, I have a lot of sympathy for her.
But I still wouldn't plug Thirteen unless it was worth seeing, and it is. I can't remember another movie that depicted the forces that work on teenagers outside of the home environment with such realism. Parents wonder why their kids turn out the way they do yet rarely understand that their kids leave every morning for school and enter an entirely different universe for more than half the day. In Los Angeles, this alternate universe is even more frightening than elsewhere--I would never let my kids attend the L.A. public school system. All parents-in-training and parents-to-be would do well to watch this movie and read the Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do.