Fierce People stands out as one of the most original and well-written films in the era of gimmicks, special effects and pizzazz. At first glance, a coming-of-age film about a young boy and his recovering drug addict mother may not seem that exciting, but director Griffin Dunne and writer Dirk Wittenborn have created a character-driven story that keeps you invested throughout its 130-minute runtime.

Anton Yelchin (Alpha Dog) steps up to the plate as Finn Earl, a fatherless child who goes under the wing of millionaire Ogden C. Osborne, expertly played by Donald Sutherland. Diane Lane gives a heartfelt performance as Finn’s mother, Liz, who struggles with her past addictions and her desire to create a better life for her son.

Elizabeth Perkins, Kristen Stewart and Chris Evans also are wonderful in their roles as Osborne’s eccentric family that have trouble adjusting to Finn and Liz moving in on their family’s property. The film is especially effective in its use of narrative, comparing the oddball family to that of a South American tribe.

Much credit is due to Dunne’s direction because the movie is set in the ’70s and feels authentically like it could have been made and released in that time period. Wittenborn has crafted a great script from his book, and under Dunne’s direction, the two have created a classic that will be relevant many years from now.

Grade: A

Fierce People is currently in theaters.