Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Triskaidekaphilia: 'Little Thirteen' (2012)

On the 13th of each month, I write about a movie whose title contains the number 13.

The German film Little Thirteen is an alarmist teen drama in the vein of Kids or previous Triskaidekaphilia entry Thirteen, although its tone is a little less histrionic. Instead, it's often disconcertingly titillating, especially since its main characters are all meant to be underage (although played, presumably, by adult actors). Maybe it's the difference in morality standards between Germany and the U.S., but I was more than a little put off by the explicit sex scenes, which are more leering than sympathetic in depicting the promiscuity of a handful of German teenagers.

Unlike, say, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Little Thirteen isn't about sexuality as an empowering force for 13-year-old Sarah (Muriel Wimmer), her slightly older best friend Charly (Antonia Putiloff) or even the boys they sleep with. Instead sex for them is more like a time-killer, something to fill the void created by neglectful parents and indifferent schooling. Yet the movie isn't really interested in exploring the root causes of its characters' irresponsibility, instead following them aimlessly through various sexual exploits, ticking off boxes of the troubled-teenager genre. In addition to the rampant, unprotected sex, there's casual drug use, shoplifting, drunkenness and even amateur pornography, all of it presented with the same "kids today" shrug.

The movie reaches its ugly nadir when Sarah's equally promiscuous and irresponsible mother inserts herself into a threesome with her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend, and director Christian Klandt films it with barely any differentiation from a softcore MILF fantasy. Sarah gives a few reluctant looks, but the camera is far more interested in the naked bodies of her and her mother. There's a bit of narration at the beginning and end of the movie from Sarah that's meant to tie all of the exploitation into some deeper longing, but it comes off mostly as an excuse, and neither Sarah nor any of the other characters is portrayed with any kind of complex inner life. They're just fodder for trainwreck drama, and that drama loses its sick fascination rather quickly.

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