Fierce People

2005

Fierce People

Critics Consensus

Fierce People's premise of a teenager studying rich people like animals is grating and self-satisfied, and Anton Yelchin's smug performance makes the film even harder to agree with.

24%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 45

58%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,802
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Movie Info

Trapped in his mother's Lower East Side apartment, 16-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 guesthouse on the vast country estate of her ex-client, the aging aristocratic billionaire, Ogden C. Osbourne. In Osbourne's close world of privilege and power, Finn and Liz encounter a tribe fiercer and more mysterious than anything they might find in the South American jungle: the super rich. While Liz battles her substance abuse and struggles to win back her son's love and trust, Finn falls in love with Osbourne's beautiful granddaughter, Maya, befriends her charismatic older brother, Bryce, and even wins the favor of Osbourne himself. But when a shocking act of violence shatters Finn's ascension within the Osbourne clan, the golden promises of this lush world quickly sour. And, both Finn and Liz, caught in a harrowing struggle for their dignity, discover that membership always comes at a price.

Cast

Diane Lane
as Liz Earl
Anton Yelchin
as Finn Earl
Donald Sutherland
as Ogden C. Osborne
Christopher Shyer
as Dr. Leffler
Elizabeth Perkins
as Mrs. Langley
Gary Chalk
as McCallum
Dexter Bell
as Marcus Gates
Aaron Brooks
as Giacomo
Dirk Wittenborn
as Fox Blanchard
Alan Giles
as Dignified Old Man
Sibel Thrasher
as Creamsicle
Robert Clarke
as Herbert the Butler
Eddie Rosales
as Iskanani Shaman
Will Lyman
as Documentary Narrator
View All

Critic Reviews for Fierce People

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (18) | Fresh (11) | Rotten (34)

Audience Reviews for Fierce People

  • Dec 16, 2010
    A mildly interesting look at how a kid who has nothing to call his own would respond when thrown into a situation where he is surrounded by people who are incredibly wealthy. Liz Earl (Diane Ladd) is a massage therapist who is struggling to keep it together when circumstances force her to seek refuge with the incredibly wealthy Ogden Osborne (Donald Sutherland), a man she once treated when he was hospitalized. Her son, Finn (Anton Yelchin), meets and becomes friends with Ogden's granddaughter, Maya (Kristen Stewart). The film was good at setting up the premise, and developing the relationship between the two teenagers, but the film seemed to lose its way part way through. Instead of a gentle coming of age story about two people from completely different backgrounds, it became a dark, psychological thriller with patricide and sexual deviancy and a host of other twists that left this viewer somewhat bewildered. The unifying thread is the performance of Anton Yelchin. Without him, this could have been an unbearable mess. However, given the cast, including Elizabeth Perkins as Maya's mother, this film should have had a whole lot more going for it. The fierce people of the title may refer to this "tribe" of the super-wealthy, or it may only be a reference to the tribe that Finn's absent father studies in South America, but as a film, this was a disappointment.
    Mark A Super Reviewer
  • Sep 26, 2009
    Intensely stupid movie that I caught on Sundance (they constantly make me question why I still keep them on my cable package, but then they show a Cassavettes marathon and I renew them). I can't believe that talented actors like Diane Lane and Donald Sutherland read this script and think it can work (I was wondering if they owed Griffin Dunne something or just thought he was a nice guy). The movie starts out OK (exposition in dialogue is becoming a curse in film today), but then in the middle becomes a mind fuck of a movie with absolutely retarded twists (some of which you see coming a mile away). I am just glad I fell asleep towards the end and awoke to know exactly how this thing would end. Waste of talent all the way around. This is why people should stop smoking weed when they think it's making them a better writer.
    Tim S Super Reviewer
  • Sep 13, 2009
    If you had told me beforehand I'd include it in the same sentence as 'The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys' or 'The Chumscrubber', I'd have laughed and said that was unlikely. But this deserves to be on that short list of dark, quirky, and emotionally moving independent films. The movie surrounds Finn (Yelchin) who has to stay home from a South American summer vacation where he was to meet his anthropologist/explorer father for the first time. This is after he is caught with cocaine for his drug addicted and alcoholic mother (Lane), and circumstances have them staying in a guest house at the wealthy sprawling NJ estate of businessman Osborne (Sutherland). While there he falls in love with the billionaire's granddaughter (Stewart), becomes friends with his grandson (Evans), and a number of other sometimes rich and sometimes off-kilter characters. There are dark themes and serious contexts (wealth/class issues, human nature issues) present throughout, with spats of dark humour the first half of the film. The second half hits you like a brick wall, and was one of the most shocking and unexpected turns I've enountered in any film, and all but completely abandons the lighter side and humour found in the first hour. I always wondered where Yelchin came from, and now I know. This is clearly his break,and the same could be said about Chris Evans and even Kristen Stewart (although this came shortly after Speak). Diane Lane, Donald Sutherland, and Elizabeth Perkins seem to take a backseat to Yelchin and the younger cast, but bring a lot of depth to their roles and the film. This movie is a perfect reason not to trust critics and to go with your gut. It's been so long since I've uncovered a movie like this, and given it was out so long without me seeing it, it makes me want to dig around and see what else I'm missing.
    Nick G Super Reviewer
  • Jul 03, 2008
    Are the customs of a rich family like those of a primitive South American band of natives? That is the premise of this movie. There are those in the rich family who stop at nothing to protect their interests. The movie is better than most these days.
    Red L Super Reviewer

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