Two incredibly strong acting performances drive this movie. Holly Hunter really should have won her second Oscar for this and Evan Rachel Wood should have at the very least received a nomination.
Wood plays Tracy, a typical thirteen year old girl, getting decent grades at school, but not one of the in-crowd. Her life (and her mother's) turn upside down when she becomes friends with one of the cool kids, Evie (Nikki Reed). From a sweet girl who respects her family and does chores for her mum (Hunter). Tracy gets involved with drugs, alcohol, petty crime and self-harm, getting involved so deep she's a completely different person come the end of the movie, much to the emotional drain of her family and especially her mother.
It's more than just a movie about teen angst, it's also about manipulative friendships and how parents are sometimes almost powerless to stop their kids falling in with the wrong type.
A big surprise is how well directed this film is, beginning in rich colour and slowly becoming black & white as it depicts Tracy's descent into her troubles.
It's a huge shame director Catherine Hardwicke had to go and (arguably) ruin her career with the first Twilight movie.