Fierce People (film)

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Fierce People
Fierce people ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGriffin Dunne
Produced byGriffin Dunne
Nick Wechsler
Dirk Wittenborn
Screenplay byDirk Wittenborn
Based onFierce People
by Dick Wittenborn
StarringDiane Lane
Donald Sutherland
Anton Yelchin
Chris Evans
Kristen Stewart
Music byNick Laird-Clowes
CinematographyWilliam Rexer
Edited byAllyson C. Johnson
Industry Entertainment
Distributed byLions Gate Films
Autonomous Films
Release date
  • April 24, 2005 (2005-04-24) (Tribeca)
  • April 28, 2006 (2006-04-28) (Canada)
  • September 30, 2007 (2007-09-30) (United States)
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$269,755[1]

Fierce People is a 2005 independent drama thriller film adapted by Dirk Wittenborn from his 2002 novel of the same name. Directed by Griffin Dunne, it starred Diane Lane, Donald Sutherland, Anton Yelchin, Kristen Stewart, and Chris Evans. The film explores many facets of family and societal dysfunction, including drug abuse, mental illness, and rape.[2]


Trapped in his drug-dependent mother's apartment, 16-year-old Finn Earl (Anton Yelchin) wants nothing more than to escape New York City. He wants to spend the summer in South America studying the Ishkanani Indians (known as the "Fierce People") with his anthropologist father whom he's never met. Finn's plan has to change after he is arrested when he buys drugs for his mother, Lower East Side Liz (Diane Lane), who works as a massage therapist. Determined to get their lives back on track, Liz moves the two of them into a guesthouse for the summer on the country estate of her ex-client, the aging billionaire, Ogden C. Osbourne (Donald Sutherland).

In Osbourne's world of privilege and power, Finn and Liz encounter the super rich, a tribe portrayed as fiercer and more mysterious than anything the teenager might find in the South American jungle. (Dirk Wittenborn, the author of the novel on which the film is based, grew up in a modest household and felt like an outsider among the super rich in an upper-crust New Jersey enclave.[3])

While Liz battles her substance abuse and struggles to win back her son's love and trust, Finn falls in love with Osbourne's granddaughter, Maya Langley (Kristen Stewart). He befriends her older brother, Bryce Langley (Chris Evans); and wins the favor of Osbourne. When rape and violence ends Finn's acceptance within the Osbourne clan, the promises of this world quickly sour. Both Finn and Liz, caught in a harrowing struggle for their dignity, discover that membership in a group comes at a steep price.



Portions of the film were shot on location in British Columbia, Canada at Hatley Castle.[4]


Critical reception[edit]

Fierce People earned negative reviews.[5][6]

The film currently holds a 24% 'Rotten' rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the 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."[7]

Box office[edit]

The film received a limited release and grossed $85,410 at the box office in the US.[8]


  1. ^ Fierce People at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Schager, Nick (August 20, 2007). "Fierce People". Slate Magazine. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  3. ^ Joy Press, "Privileged Information", Village Voice, 11 Jun 2002
  4. ^ "Hatley Castle". Archived from the original on 2012-02-10. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
  5. ^ Movie Review - "Fierce People (2006): Surviving in That Rain Forest East of the Delaware River", The New York Times, 7 September 2007, accessed 8 Jan 2010.
  6. ^ Movie Review - Fierce People (2006) Archived 2011-06-12 at the Wayback Machine,
  7. ^ Fierce People at Rotten Tomatoes
  8. ^ "Fierce People",, accessed 8 Jan 2010

External links[edit]