Although tamed by two too many music-video-styled sequences, director Lawrence Blume's faithful adaptation, of his mother Judy Blume's popular young adult novel, has all the right instincts. Willa Holland is outstanding as the film's head-heart-and-loins protagonist Davey, a fierce force of feminine nature whose eyes do indeed match the feline demands of the movie's title — derived from a name she chooses for herself as part of branding her independence.
The untimely death of her father sends the 17-year-old Davey on culture-shock relocation from New York City to Los Alamos, New Mexico. A brewing romance between Davey and a young American Indian man called "Wolf" (Tatanka Means) shows off Means's gift for sensitive understatement. Together, Holland and Tatanka share a fascinating romantic chemistry on-screen that compensates partially for the source material’s more prosaic dramatic elements.
"Tiger Eyes" is an affecting coming of age drama; there won't be a dry-eyed audience member. It's intriguing to watch nuanced characters defy typecast in a heartfelt narrative form. The passion of the filmmakers is on the screen. I imagine Judy Blume is proud of her son's straightforward rendition of the story she wrote.
Rated PG-13. 92 mins.
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