River’s Edge showed that there was a darker underside to the contemporary teenager than mainstream Hollywood had imagined. Films such as Heathers (1988) and Kids (1995), both of which proved unavailable for this season, continued in this vein. The hugely controversial latter was written by the then 18-year-old Harmony Korine, whose portrayal of teen life remains one of the bleakest committed to film.
Similarly, Thirteen was co-written by Nikki Reed when she herself was 13, and is loosely based on events in her own life. After changing her ‘little girl’ image, Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) forms a friendship with popular Evie (Reed), and quickly becomes involved in experimentation with drugs and sex. Reed’s involvement gives the film its edge and authenticity in depicting the troubling power of peer pressure.
Screening as part of Teenage Kicks: American Teens on Film (August 4th – 28th).