Tiger Eyes (2013)
Movie InfoTiger Eyes marks the first major motion picture adaptation from the work of iconic author Judy Blume, whose books have sold more than 82 million copies in 41 countries. Davey is a 17 year-old girl abruptly relocated by her grieving mother to the strange "atom bomb" town of Los Alamos, New Mexico. With the sudden and violent death of her father, the displaced Davey no longer knows who to be or how to fit in. Everything that once mattered suddenly seems insignificant. But when she meets Wolf, a mysterious young Native-American, while exploring the surrounding canyons, she feels he is able to see past her pain and into her true self. The connection they make brings Davey back from the edge and sets her on a journey from heartbreak and confusion to life and love after tragedy. … More
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Critic Reviews for Tiger Eyes
It's a pleasant-enough movie, but offers little that the book doesn't give its readers; far too quickly, it fades away.
Remarkably, the story, adapted by Blume with her son, director Lawrence Blume, seems as fresh, painful and poignant as when she wrote it.
There are no surprises among the characters - depressed mom (Amy Jo Johnson), controlling aunt (Cynthia Stevenson), new boyfriend (Tatanka Means) - but the cast is strong enough to build on familiar elements.
Time has robbed Blume's subjects of shock value, but her perceptiveness hasn't dimmed. The movie's sincerity carries it along, and makes this story endearing despite its filmmaking clichés.
This attenuated coming-of-age tale oozes heart and perhaps too much respect for its source material.
...scants the rich emotional potential in favor of After School Special cliches
Tiger Eyes' characters are so obvious as to be underlined and color-coded.
Guided by a gentle pace, this is a quiet film, in tone and in its acting.
... a perceptive work that should connect with young audiences and proves that Blume's emotional ideas still resonate.
A leaden, rushed movie, with Blume's own son responsible for mucking with the nuances of the source material, flattening promising conflicts and painful introspection.
Tiger Eyes takes youth angst to another level in this page to screen adaptation. Touching on teen alcoholism and pregnancy, atom bombs, and aboriginal life in Los Alamos.
Directed and constructed without distinction; nevertheless, it is quite moving, thanks to Blume's storytelling and the sincerity of the performances.
Tiger Eyes retains some of the seriousness and respect for character that distinguishes Blume's YA books. What it lacks, however, is her strong authorial voice.
Cheaply made, for just over two million dollars, Tiger Eyes looks under-populated, even for its Southwestern milieu, with the feel of a made-for-TV movie, not an indie film, which is how it's being promoted.
Audience Reviews for Tiger Eyes
Lawrence Blume's "Tiger Eyes," opening in select theaters across the country tomorrow, is adapted from Judy Blume's bestselling young adult novel of the same name but it doesn't feel like something that would fill a slot on ABC Family's schedule. It's a thoughtful and affecting film that has some simple but profound things to say about the pains of adolescence.
Davey (Willa Holland) and her mother and brother move across the country to live with her aunt and uncle, to recover after the murder of Davey's father. With a sudden tragedy at the film's core, it possesses a pervasive melancholy but it never descends into maudlin depression. Davey's trauma greatly impacts her young life but it doesn't destroy it. She still has to navigate life in a new high school, deal with her disapproving relatives and begin an enjoyable low-key romance with the laconic Wolf (Tatanka Means). The grounded and deeply felt way Davey works through her grief is refreshingly real in comparison to the screeching melodrama that powers most modern teen films.
Though "Tiger Eyes'" has a pleasantly unassuming tone, it's doesn't sand down the sharp edges that made its source material one of the American Library Association's most challenged books. Davey's friend Jane's (Elise Eberle) dependence on alcohol isn't soft peddled and her increasingly volatile relationship with her uncle (Forrest Fyre) reaches to a particularly ugly climax. And Davey's mother (Amy Jo Johnson), devastated by the loss of her husband, falls into a harrowing prescription pill addiction. The elements aren't sensationalized but not underplayed either.
The film's story is simply told but it's not simplistic. None of the adult characters are saddled with the one-dimensionality that defines most teen movie antagonists. Davey's aunt (Cynthia Stevenson) occasionally comes off as heavy-handed but she's rarely wrong and Stevenson has one great scene where she gets to express how a lifetime of disappointments has worn her down. Even Davey's dreamy new ethnic boyfriend is given an uncommon amount of depth.
The only part of the film that felt lacking was the generally predictability of plot and its pre-title sequence. In it, Blume holds a tight close-up on Davey running through the night, bathed in perfect golden light. We hear her labored breathing and the gentle melody of Nathan Larson's score before Davey poetically ruminates on death. It's the best scene in the film and it sets expectations for an elegiac sublimity that it never reaches again.
As the first adaptation of a Judy Blume novel, "Tiger Eyes" is an unqualified success. It's as sensitive a portrayal of youth in transition as I've seen this year and it's heartening to know that the Blumes were able to make a film like this outside of the studio system. It's not an overwrought saga or a bland morality play, it's a measured slice of life tale about those quiet moments in everyone's life where they let go of who they are and become who they're meant to be.
"It's the eye of the tiger, it's the thrill of the fight, rising up to the challenge of our rival, and the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night, and he's watching us all with the eye... of the tiger!" ...Alright, there you go, I did it, and it could have been worse somehow, like, say, a spin on the lyrics to "Hungry Eyes" or something. There were enough complaints regarding "dirty dancing" surrounding this material when this film's source young adult novel was first released back in the 1981, if you know what I mean (Wink-wink-nudge-nudge). You probably don't know what I mean, because by now, I can't think of too many people who are still interested in Judy Blume's "Tiger Eyes", let alone controversies surrounding sexual material in the novel which is basically for kids... who are old enough to most likely be doing the same thing (Stupid marketers disregard the depravity of teenagers), so much so that Blume had to get her son to direct this adaptation over 30 years after the book's release (The book actually is older than the song "The Eye of the Tiger"). Even I, for one, am mostly here because Willa Holland looks awful pretty in the poster, and plus, I'm interested to see what she'll do without the CW, even if this film is as well-funded and, well, watched as "The Arrow". Eh, she's still too deep in her niche, and I knew it was coming when she got so far into the "Teen Media Zone" that she voiced a character in, not one, but two "Kingdom Hearts" game (It was the same character, but I get more depressed for Haley Joel Osment's career with every new release of a "Kingdom Hearts" game featuring him in the voice cast), and sure enough, she's somehow worked her way into an "independent" young adult drama. Young "adults" aren't going to see this, or even hear about it, and that's a shame, because this film is pretty decent, even though it's not without a deal of issues, much like teenagers who aren't decent (Seriously, marketers, there is no innocence in childhood when the teen years arrive).
While this film is kind of like your more run-of-the-mill commercial teen drama in plenty of areas, in just as many areas, it's a less heavily produced and more thoughtful independent piece, and if you think that means that this film gets dull, then, well, yup, you're pretty much right, because when thoughtful storytelling gets carried away, atmosphere really dries up and pacing takes serious damage that it cannot afford to have if it hopes to keep you from noticing just how dragged out plotting is with repetitious excess material that gets to be so abundant that it ends up driving much of the film. Still, as bloated as the film is in some areas, it takes only so much time to flesh out what intrigue there is to this film's characters through extensive development, possibly because screenwriters Judy and Lawrence Blume know that you know these characters and situations, and not just because the book upon which this film is based was so popular for a while. Seeing as how Judy Blume is credited as an innovator in young adult novel writing, perhaps this film's subject matter was refreshing at the time of its source material's release, but at this point, we've seen what this film has to offer so much that this interpretation of an ostensibly once-unique story comes off as kind of embarrassingly generic, with highly distinct character types and familiar plot points that inspire predictability. In this day and age, this film offers you very little that you haven't already seen time and again, yet when I say that plotting is predictable, I kind of mean that loosely, seeing as how this film gets to be a bit aimless when all of the aforementioned dragging further thins out the focus of this film's paper-thin story. Okay, perhaps "paper-thin" is a relatively harsh adjective to describe this subject matter, as it has some weighty thematic depth, as well as a few worthy dramatic areas, but on the whole, there's something inconsequential about this aimless story about simply finding resolution through no real external conflict. There's not a whole lot to the story, and what limited bit there is may very well end up being anything from borderline trite to overblown, if not undercooked, and such a formula has meant disaster for other films of this distinct type, and certainly leaves this particular effort to run the risk of collapsing into mediocrity. Well, mediocrity doesn't quite claim this film, which is seriously flawed, but decent, and even inspired in certain areas, including the musical ones, at least up to an extent.
Independent young adult fare or not, this film is still very much directed at youngsters, and let me tell you, we're not talking about the youngsters of the early '80s who were targeted by this film's source material, so when the song soundtrack kicked in with all of its poppish ditties for all of the 15-to-20-year-old to enjoy for some inexplicable reason, I found my patience challenged to no end, which, of course, helped me in appreciating Nathan Larson's original score, which is underused throughout this relatively quiet drama, and doesn't have all that much to it in the first place, but has a certain endearing tastefulness to it that is pretty pretty, though perhaps not as pretty as the film's visual style. A low-profile project with the tightest of budgets, this film certainly can't afford Seamus McGarvey as its cinematographer, so it has to settle with Seamus Tierney, who in turn has to settle with relatively cheap filming material that has only so much definition to it, yet where Tierney could have struggled to obscure the shortcomings in photography, he celebrates them near-ingeniously, combining in hauntingly inspired tastes in lighting with somewhat watered-down definition in order to give the film a very uniquely rugged visual style that is consistently attractive, and sometimes surprisingly gorgeous. If nothing else is unique about this film, it's its visual style, which isn't too outstanding, but inspired enough for you to see gorgeousness through its shortcomings, yet the inspiration hardly ends with style, because without inspired storytelling, this drama could very well fall flat under the weight of its natural shortcomings. Judy Blume's classic story is thin in conflict, and this contemporary interpretation of it feels too celebratory of the tropes that its source material ironically helped in establishing just about thirty-two years ago, but really, it's still worthy in plenty of places, having a realist thematic and dramatic depth that has stood the test of time, and is brought to life in certain areas by the inspired direction by Blume's son Lawrence, whose efforts aren't too strong, but thoughtfully soak up a fair deal of the depth from his mother's very humanly tender story. Sure, the thoughtfulness in Blume's storytelling sometimes gets carried away in steadying pacing, while ambition stresses the film's other shortcomings, yet the heart that Blume puts into this drama carries certain effective moments quite a ways, while keeping the final product consistently endearing, much like the heart found within the inspired onscreen performances. Former Power Ranger Amy Jo Johnson is way too underused in the film to stand out all that much on a general standard, but when he has a moment to shine, she really steals the show with a powerful portrayal of a grieving widow, and when it comes to the other unknown, or at least forgotten talents within this cast, most everyone delivers as well as he or she can with such limited and familiar material, with our pretty leading lady Willa Holland carrying the film with a tender charisma and moments of subtle emotional strength which capture the quiet angst and subtle layers of a coming-of-age youth dealing with the loss of a parent and the process of embracing a new home which reveals new, life-altering peers and opportunities. Holland isn't outstanding, but she and her peers back their performances with an inspiration that is all too rarely seen in films of this nature, and joins just as inspired storytelling in doing a lot to carry the final product as decent, even if it can't carry things too terribly far.
When it's all said and done, atmospheric dry spells reflect a repetitious, maybe even aimless dragging in plotting, while underdevelopment leaves you to meditate upon the genericism within the characters and story, and natural shortcomings within the thin story leave the final product to run the risk of collapsing into mediocrity, which is ultimately kept at bay by the lovely original score work, handsomely unique cinematography, heartfelt storytelling and inspired acting that make "Tiger Eyes" an often compelling and consistently endearing young adult drama, in spite of its flaws.
2.5/5 - Fair
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