3.5, United States/Canada

12 and Holding

2006 / Michael Cuesta > Turning thirteen and technically becoming a teenager, that’s when the struggles of adolescence becomes official. But there are always those who hit their strides earlier due to special events that surround their lives—family, death or love, for example. In these times, a child is forced to act years in advance of their actual age, replicating what they’ve learned from those around them and on television and books. But always in this state of being precocious, it’s important to remember that they retain their naivety. That naivety is what Cuesta so very impressively portrays in Twelve and Holding. The challenge for a filmmaker with such material is never the shock factor one needs to achieve, but rather to justify its existence within the scope of the film. Cuesta’s treatment is gentle, intelligent and all the while respectful to the nuances of growing up.