- TIGER WITHIN
- Starring: Ed Asner and and Margot Josefsohn
- Directed by: Rafal Zielinski
- Rated: Not Rated
- Running time: 1 hr 38 mins
- Menemsha Films
I didn’t have to move to the Kansas City area to understand the power of the late Ed Asner. A local boy from the Kansas side of the state line, Asner went on to an amazing acting career, earning (7) Emmy Awards (tied for third place in most acting wins with his “Mary Tyler Moore Show” co-star Mary Tyler Moore).
I grew up watching him on such long-running shows as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (Emmy) and “Lou Grant” (Emmy) as well as such mini-series’ as “Rich Man, Poor Man” (Emmy) and “Roots” (Emmy). On a more personal note, I had the amazing opportunity to interview him once and he loved the fact that I felt his best role was as Axel Jordache in “Rich Man, Poor Man,” especially because he felt the same way. And even more personal, he is only the second celebrity who asked my permission to give my wife a kiss on the cheek – the other being Jay Osmond. So when I learned that one of his final films was being released I jumped at the chance to see it.
Casey (Josefsohn) is the new girl in class. No sooner does she sit down at her desk when, thanks to an obnoxious classmate, she is sent to the principal’s office. Returning to the home she shares with her mother and abusive boyfriend, Casey feels the time has come to leave Ohio and visit her father in Los Angeles. Soon she finds that things aren’t always sunny on the West coast. Until she meets Samuel.
A true coming of age story, “Tiger Within” is the story of a girl who refuses to conform to anyone’s perception of who she should be. Realizing that her father and his new family aren’t really excited at her arrival, Casey decides to strike out on her own in the big city, sleeping wherever she can find space, including a local cemetery that Samuel (Asner) visits often. Concerned for the young girl, he offers to buy her lunch and let her clean up at his apartment. As time goes by, the two develop a true kinship, one that allows Casey to conquer her fears and embrace the tiger within.
The film works in many ways, but the key are the performances of Asner and Josefsohn. Samuel is a Jew who last most of his family during the Holocaust. He is appalled that Casey has a swastika on her jacket and even more appalled that she not only thinks of it as just a way to say “F-you” but that she has been taught that the Holocaust was false. The film is eye opening in this way, tackling other social issues, including sex trafficking.
The script is well written, with the occasional bit of humor to bring some levity to some serious issues. The film moves smoothly and takes advantage of the fact that Casey is always drawing in her notebook by using animated versions of Casey’s art to denote scene transitions.
Though the film is not rated, it does deal with some serious issues. But it is the handling of those issues, and Asner’s performance, that make this film a must see!
On a scale of zero to five I give “Tiger Within” four stars.