Fierce People


Diane Lane ("Unfaithful") is the mother of a spirited but sensible teenage boy who has tolerated her alcoholic/druggie behavior most of his life. His father is a well-known anthropologist who went to South America when the boy was three and all the kid knows of him are his films of aboriginal tribes and their primal relationships with the spirits of animals, their brutal treatment of non-tribal strangers, their religious attitude about the sanctity of marriage, etc.

Donald Sutherland ("The Italian Job") is a fabulously wealthy man who hires Lane to be his on-site "masseuse." This job motivates her to join a 12-step program and move from New York City to his enormous New Jersey estate where he will provide her with a domicile for her and the boy. This place is so huge there are vast expanses of wilderness between the various houses, with unexpected violence and cruelty lurking among the pretty trees.

If you take a step back from this movie and take the long view, using the boy's voiceover as a guide, you are studying the tribal customs of a wealthy New Jersey tribe, with its customs, warfare, initiation rites and brutality. It became extremely involving and I responded on cue with appropriate gasps and white knuckles, but I did NOT like this movie.

Waaay too unsettling....