Thirteen – Catherine Hardwicke

Thirteen (Poster)

I watched this film because I’m interested in women-centric worlds. And this, is a study of that (before it’s even a story). So I suggest you leave the story alone for the sake of the study. (Although I assume the actors really believe it’s a story (apart from Hunter), and that’s fine, the better.)

The reflection here isn’t particularly intelligent, or even reflexive. It’s raw, unsophisticated, it’s pure reporting. But the selection is consistent in exposing its intended center. You can tell a woman’s soul conceived it. The territory explored is singularly womanly: the plight of constant adjustment, the unconsciously deliberate rubbing against binding space, the compromising of real soul within artificial boundaries. All that to an excess, causing incommensurable damage.

They had it a bit easier because they were dealing with teenagers. And the kind of stuff kids go through during that period is fertile ground for excess.

I suppose many people will commend the performances. I won’t. I didn’t expect any less. But I will commend the intuitive spirits that brought this to me. Because in terms of similar artifacts, most of what we have gets packaged into morality plays about “being yourself”. This doesn’t. Where you have “Mean Girls” showing us teenage characters rooted in character, you have this showing teenage characters rooted in real experience. Yes, it’s simple, and a tad overdone in places, but it’s exactly the way a woman might indulge, with clumsy delicacy.

So see it, if you are interested in women (because you are interested in loving them).

There’s a scene nearing the end where Hunter finally sees her daughter’s self-inflicted cuts. What a wonderful idea. She kisses her arm the way she might kiss a face. That arm, is the whole movie, which she wasn’t watching. Clever. That’s when she enters our world. I’m sure Hunter thought of that and suggested it to the director.

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Categories: Notes

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