It's rare that a film as initially unfocused and scattershot as Griffin Dunne's mock-ethnographic Fierce People would halfway redeem itself through the introduction of an anal rape/revenge narrative--but here we have it. Discussion of redemption in this case is tricky--it's not as if the two halves of this decidedly odd film display a marked difference in filmmaking and performance quality, but the whole enterprise does become a much more energized affair once the crime has been committed. However, my positive reaction to the "added value" Dunne serves up in Fierce People's latter portions may have less to do with its narrative necessity than with the extra oomph of purpose it lends a movie that seems content for its first hour to merely drift. That or, perhaps the sheer novelty factor of finding such a bizarre story strand grafted into a generally conventional and familiar work.
Click here to read Jeff Reichert's review of Fierce People.