The World According to Renee

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Review: Tiger Eyes

Let me preface this by saying Tiger Eyes is one of my favourite novels and I can probably recite most of it by heart. I have high expectations of a film version. 

Tiger Eyes tells the story of Davey Wexler and her family after the death of her father in a store robbery gone wrong. The family move to New Mexico to be with Davey’s aunt Bitsy and uncle Walter so they can grieve, heal, and find their feet again. In the process, Davey finds a couple of friends, Wolf and Jane. 

First, the bad bits. There are minor differences between the novel and film. Minka, the cat, is left in the care of Lenaya (Davey’s best friend) and not taken to New Mexico. Bitsy is Gwen’s sister, not Adam’s. Davey wins a part in the school’s talent show, not the lead in a musical. These are minor differences, so why were they changed? Take the cat to NM just to appease purists. I concede it makes more sense for Bitsy and Gwen to be sisters, however Bitsy loses that sense of her own loss as well as Davey’s musings that she and her father had the same parents like her and little brother Jason. As for the musical/talent show, I suppose it was a licensing issue to get the rights to Oklahoma! so I concede that point. There’s also an extra scene in which Wolf takes Tiger to a traditional ceremony. Personally, I like the addition as it adds a sense of belonging for Tiger, which is what she’s really searching for. 

Luckily, the good bits far outweigh the negatives. Lawrence Blume (yes, Judy Blume’s son) directed the film and he’s done a fantastic job. The script was co-written by Judy and Lawrence, preserving most of the dialogue word-for-word, especially in the first scenes. In the novel, much of Davey’s musings are internalised, and they’ve done a great job in externalising those thoughts by having Davey saying them aloud. The character of Miriam, the therapist, is omitted completely. I think this works on film for Davey but not necessarily for Gwen, Davey’s mother. She’s messed up and it’s clear she needs help. In fact, Walter says this to Bitsy but it’s not clear if the extra help is given. Some of Miriam’s lines are given to either Bitsy or Wolf. In the climactic scene of Davey reliving all of That Night, it works perfectly on film, much better than in the novel. Combine all of these elements with Lawrence Blume’s powerful direction and you’ve got one hell of a film. 

There are a couple of things I don’t understand and will have to analyse more on a second viewing. When I read the novel as a teen, I desperately wanted something to happen between Wolf and Tiger. In the film, they kiss but it just seems a bit icky and gross. Wolf is so much older than her, and she needs a friend, not romantic complications. Wolf also mentions he is going away… but he never seems to. He’s always there, showing up when you’re not expecting him to. It’s a tad stalkerish, actually. 

7.5 out of 10 popcorns




June 18, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

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