Flattered when she’s invited to go “shopping” one afternoon by wild child Evie (Reed), a clique leader popular with the boys, still-innocent good girl Tracy (Wood) accepts. After lifting an old lady’s purse, the two become inseparable friends. Almost overnight, Tracy is transformed from a well-adjusted achiever into an insolent, out-of-control teen whose descent into exhibitionistic sex, casual drug use, and all-around bad behavior strains her relationship with Melanie (Hunter), her divorced mother.
Co-written by 13-year-old co-star Reed and director Hardwicke, this tale of troubled adolescence calls to mind Larry Clark’s “Kids,” and certainly the raw subject matter of that film (sex, drugs, and sullen teen attitudes). But Hardwicke is smart enough not to simply batter us with grim facts about what the kids are really up to; she stages a credible mother/daughter conflict drawn from Reed’s actual experience, using three very fine actors to enact the raging tensions. Wood in particular impresses with an intense, skin-peeling performance.