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The Ending Of Thirteen Explained

Coming of age stories have long been a popular movie genre. While many films of that nature tend to have happy, heartwarming endings, there are plenty that focus on the darker side of growing up, and what can happen if you take too many wrong turns. One of the more melancholy teen dramas of the last few decades is "Thirteen," which was Catherine Hardwicke's ("Lords of Dogtown," "Twilight") directorial debut. The film starred Nikki Reed, who also co-wrote the script and based the narrative loosely on her own experiences.

"Thirteen" centers on Tracy Freeland (Evan Rachel Wood), a 13-year-old "good girl." She struggles with depression, which is generally unnoticed by her mother Melanie (Holly Hunter), who is dealing with overcoming her own demons. When Tracy meets and befriends the popular Evie Zamora (Reed), she's suddenly thrust into a world of petty crimes, drugs, and risky behavior. The film as a whole is mildly disturbing as it depicts young teens in mature situations, but it ultimately serves as a warning — anyone can end up going down a dangerous path. The ending of "Thirteen" is also unlike what we see in typical coming of age stories, because it doesn't offer any answers.

We have to guess where Tracy will go next

The end of "Thirteen" is distressing, and doesn't offer any sort of closure for Tracy or her mother Melanie. After Melanie, Evie, and Evie's legal guardian Brooke (Deborah Kara Unger) confront Tracy about the trouble the teens have been getting into, Brooke accuses Tracy of being the instigator. After Brooke threatens to move cities with Evie, they leave, and Tracy sobs on the floor while Melanie tries to comfort her. They fall asleep in Tracy's room, and the movie ends with a blurry shot of Tracy riding a spinning park ride dejectedly before screaming.

The ending can mean many things: a symbol of Tracy's lost state of mind, the lack of control she has in her life, her pent-up frustration. What it doesn't offer are answers. Will Tracy open up to Melanie about everything that happened the last few months? Will Tracy get the help she needs? What will become of Evie? We're left to guess what the future will hold, which in a way is yet another reminder of real life — you don't always know what's going to happen next. All we can hope is that things end up for the best for everyone involved.

Thirteen affected Nikki Reed's life

Since Reed used parts of her real life for the film's inspiration, some assumed her life was much more troubling than it apparently was. In 2012, Reed confessed that she's realized she may have been a bit harsh with her depictions of her family, saying, "I have tons of regrets with that. 'Thirteen' was really hard on my family. I wrote this movie about them and their flaws and imperfections and what it was like growing up ... You get older and it's like, how dare I portray my father as being a totally vacant careless schmuck?" (via HuffPost).

Reed also used her mother as inspiration for Tracy's mother, Melanie — especially some elements of their rocky relationship. She expressed her regret to the New York Daily News, telling the publication, "My mom can't defend herself to the world. She is such an amazing woman, with such an open heart. It's a real hard line, and I crossed it. I took everyone's life story and assumed it would be a great thing to put on screen. I was being selfish and I feel so horrible about it. I feel so guilty."

Thankfully, her parents were able to forgive her. "Now I have a great relationship with both my parents," Reed told HuffPost in a separate interview. "I guess that's part of when you sign up to be a parent — you also have a pot of forgiveness ready for your kid."