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Davey has never felt so alone in her life. Her father is dead -- shot in a holdup at his store -- and now her mother is taking 17 year old Davey and her little brother to New Mexico to stay with relatives while she tries to recover. Climbing in the Los Alamos canyon, Davey meets the mysterious Wolf, the only person who seems to understand the rage and fear Davey feels. Slowly, with Wolf's help, Davey realizes that she must get on with her life. A complicated story of deep human drama. Based on the classic novel,"Tiger Eyes," by Judy Blume. Written by
Tatanka Means, who plays Martin Ortiz (Wolf), is the son of Russell Means, the actor and American Indian Movement activist who plays Martin's father, Willie Ortiz. Russell Means died of esophageal cancer in 2012, after filming on this movie was completed but before the finished film was released. His character in Tiger Eyes also has cancer. See more »
End Credits: "No lizards were harmed during the production of this motion picture." See more »
Tiger Eyes, a young adult book written by Judy Blume in 1981 and the first of her movies to be brought to the big screen, is about a young girl trying to cope with the murder of her father. Her son, Lawrence Blume wrote the screen play and directed the film. Willia Holland stars as Davey and Tatanka Means stars as Wolf, the young man who who helps Davey find strength from loss.
Despite the Boston International Film Festival playing an unfinished version of the film that lacked surround sound and the rich deep and moody color the directer intended, the movie was lushly filmed and used the landscape surrounding Los Almos New Mexico as a silent-yet-powerful character in the film.
What is rendered on the screen is a spare yet moving meditation on the solitude of grief and the redemptive power of connection. The film holds a few masterful moments that telegraph to our hearts and minds the experience of grief. Close to the beginning of the movie we are presented with a character's wish to rise up in a hot air balloon and never come down. Shortly thereafter Davey is alone, cradled by a New Mexico canyon, and calls out for her now dead father. The aloneness an isolation of death and loss are hauntingly personified in these two scenes.
The separation and isolation build in the movie and come to a sharp point before pivoting in a Native American ceremony with Wolf (Tatanka Means) and his father Willie Ortiz (Russell Means, Tatanka's real-life father). The ceremony teaches us that no one is left alone in this universe and that it is vital that we are not alone as we are social beings. Wolf's father says "if a person feels disconnected, he or she might fail." The movie starts to unwind itself and carry us to the ending as relationships move from contraction to expansion toward an emotionally satisfying ending. No one fails.
Blume's books are dense. She packs in many different facets of the young adult experience. The movie adaptation of Tiger Eyes is no different. In 92 minutes we are exposed to death, grief, teen drinking, teen relationships and dating, rebellion, angst, and more. I found myself wishing for a simpler more spare story line. The other issues presented in the movie, while important and well done, distracted me from the elegant beauty of relationships lost and found.
I think, perhaps, my wish of a more spare movie reflects my more adult tastes. I got to thinking about how young adults interact with media-- short bits of information. I wonder if that was Lawrence Blume's intention of the movie--to present short bits of information to a young adult audience in their own language. If that's the case, it was pure genius.