FIERCE PEOPLE, 1986
Cast: Diane Lane, Donald Sutherland, Anton Yelchin, Kristen Stewart, Chris Evans, Elizabeth Perkins
Trapped in his mother's Lower East Side apartment, sixteen-year-old Finn wants nothing more than to escape New York and spend the summer in South America studying the Iskanani Indians, or "Fierce People," with the anthropologist father he's never met. But Finn's dreams are shattered when he is arrested in a desperate effort to help his drug-dependent mother, Liz, who scrapes by working as a masseuse. Determined to get their lives back on track, Liz moves the two of them into a guest house on the vast country estate of her ex-client, the aging aristocratic billionaire, Ogden C. Osbourne.
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Hereís a film with an interesting premise but a poorly executed end product. Dunne tries to bring some visual stimulation to this otherwise boring and lackluster film, but with no success. What we have are unrealistic characters, a plot that goes nowhere, and actors who despite their talent offer nothing in exchange for this rather dim witted drama.
Before I get into the story, thereís something that should be pointed out. None of the characters are remotely likeable. In fact, you really donít have a reason to root or even care for any of them. Iím not sure if itís the actors fault, or the writing, or directing, or all of the above, but something about these characters evokes a negative reaction, which doesnít help the already trite story.
So, as the story goes a mother and son are guests at a country side house in the opulent residential community of New Jersey where they stay at Osbourneís house. Osbourne is a client of Diane, who works as a masseuse. Meanwhile, her teenage son, Finn tries to make the most of the trip by observing and creating a record of the wealthy people.
The recordings are similar to studying primitive tribes in the jungle like his father does in South America. But the more observations he does the more he realizes that this high class is more dangerous than any tribe. Finn meets and falls for Osbourneís granddaughter, Maya played by the always mysterious if not moody Kristen Stewart.
The beginning of the film actually flows nicely and you can see its potential to be an engaging story. If anything it seems as if the film is trying to steer clear of anything that could make this more bearable and likeable. We get violence, sex, drugs, an examination of wealthy people and plenty of deplorable characters and bad decision making to qualify this as a bad film.
The tone of the film towards the characters always seems somewhat smug and none of these characters are close to anything you see in nature. Meaning the point the story is trying to make is lost since it does a poor job providing any logical connections. Also, if they really are like the tribes in the jungle, Finn never learns why.
Of course the people in the jungle have to act in a less than civilized way for the purpose of surviving. But here, if these opulent people are savages, are they savages just for the fun of it? If so, then is that really worth recording? After careful observations, perhaps itís just easier to say this movie is a failure.