With summer movie choices slim, the premiere of “Tiger Eyes” will be a welcome surprise for teens and parents, especially women nostalgic for books from the prolific writer for tweens and teens, Judy Blume. “Tiger Eyes” is Blume’s first major motion picture adaptation and is directed by her son, Lawrence Blume.
“Tiger Eyes” is the story of Davey Wexler and the tragedy that befalls her family in Atlantic City, N.J. Davey, taller than her mother, is a natural beauty most comfortable in casual beach clothes. She’s a sensitive high school student who loves to walk the Atlantic City boardwalk near her home and ride bikes with her boyfriend. Suddenly, she finds herself living in the canyons of Los Alamos, N.M., with relatives she doesn’t care for and a mother too depressed to notice. Lonely as a newcomer, an Easterner and a Jew, Davey doesn’t quite fit in anywhere, until she meets Wolf, the handsome Native American Cal Tech student visiting his ill father in Los Alamos. Wolf (Tatanka Means) seems to be the only one around her who identifies with her sadness.
The mother-son creative team for “Tiger Eyes” relies on magnificent cinematography, apt casting, and a story line of loss and self-discovery that will resonate with a wide audience.
Davey is played by Willa Holland (“Gossip Girl,” “The O.C.”). Holland was chosen from an audition of more than 300 girls. Lawrence Blume said he chose Holland because “she just was like Davey. In her own personal story, there was some trauma, and it’s on her face. You see something in her eyes.”
“Tiger Eyes,” for both Lawrence and Judy Blume, is a very personal story, too. Judy Blume said: “Larry chose the book; it had always been one of his favorites. It was so important to him, and I have always wanted to see it as a movie.” Judy joined her son on site in Los Alamos, and they worked together on the screenplay.
Lawrence Blume is a self-taught filmmaker and Hampshire College graduate. “Like Davey,” he said, “I was torn away from friends and families when my parents were divorced and we moved from New Jersey to Los Alamos.”
Lawrence recalls: “I was the fish out of water. I was Davey – dealing with loss not by death, but by divorce. Making the movie was very familiar geographically and thematically. It resonates with everyone differently. That’s the beauty of storytelling.”
“Tiger Eyes” will have its West Coast premiere at the 32nd San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. It debuts at 3:55 p.m. Sunday, July 22, at The Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St. The screening will be followed by an on-stage interview with Judy and Lawrence Blume.
For more information, go to www.sfjff.org.
Elizabeth A. Stone, Ph.D., is an education consultant and freelance journalist. Her practice, The Education Planner, provides college-counseling services.