When I was in middle school in the early 90s, I remember longing to see a movie that accurately mirrored the strange fix I suddenly found myself in, as a sexually-aware but nowhere near sexually-active pre-teen. It seemed like there was no cultural bridge between something like Home Alone (in which the protagonist was plucky, but pre-sexual), and something like Dazed and Confused, where, with the exception of the character played by actual-teenager Wiley Wiggins, the high-schoolers on screen seemed to handle their sexuality with a kind of confidence that would be foreign to most adults. I remember being thirteen years-old, having the body of a child and Mae West's libido, and having no idea how to reconcile the two. I dreamed that someday, someone would make a film that answered my cry for help.
With Wild Tigers I Have Known, 25-year-old director Cam Archer has answered that cry for help -- if not for me, then at least, for some suburban male pre-teen grappling with his new-found homosexual tendencies. The film appeared at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival but has been re-cut (by some reports drastically) in the past year. I didn't see the Wild Tigers in its festival incarnation, but it appears that while narrative structure was never at the top of Archer's 'to do' list, the cut that IFC is releasing today as part of its First Take initiative seems to be somewhat tighter than the version previously reviewed by critics. It's still a puzzle, but Archer and cinematographer Aaron Platt's undeniable feel for stunning imagery helps to smooth some of the more jagged edges.