Fierce review – an awkward fusion of showbiz critique and family drama an unoriginal act

December 4, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 0
Film Reviews, Netflix
2

Summary

Fierce wants to build a family drama into its mockery of superficial celebrity, and its divided attention leaves each aspect at odds and underdeveloped.

2

Summary

Fierce wants to build a family drama into its mockery of superficial celebrity, and its divided attention leaves each aspect at odds and underdeveloped.

Celebrity culture is an endless treasure trove of things to ridicule, and the reality competition show is chief among them. With only a little bit of effort, you can mock virtually every aspect of something like X-Factor, from the judges to the contestants to the families of contestants to even some members of the audience. This is the ripe territory that half of the new Polish Netflix film Fierce wants to explore; the problem is that it wants to spend the other half tying a family drama into it. The overall effect is awkward, tonally askew, and ultimately does neither half any favors.

The reality show here is Music Race, an obvious send-up of a hundred similar shows with a panel of judges comprising disillusioned singer Olo (Maciej Zakoscielny), Ewa (Julia Kaminska), and Urszula Dudziak (as herself). The host, Krzysztof Ibisz, also plays himself, not that any of this will mean much to people outside of Poland, but it’s a meta element that’ll probably appeal to some.

The crux of the narrative, though, turns on Marta “Ostra” Ostrowicz (Katarzyna Sawczuk), the daughter of Olo, who left her and her mother Malgosia (Anita Sokolowska) to their own devices back in the day, which didn’t go unnoticed. She’s an immediate hit with the viewing public and with the machinery of reality television, which greases its wheels with saleable drama and the personal sacrifices required of celebrity and success.

In this, Fierce is trying to pillory the superficial and flagrantly manufactured world of reality TV competitions, but it also keeps trying to make time for a family drama in which a young woman is forced to confront and possibly earn the respect of the man who abandoned her, while that man is left with the awkward choice of a second chance with his daughter who he can either welcome into an industry he is already disillusioned with or push away from it at the expense of a relationship. It’s a potentially interesting conflict given as little attention from either angle as possible.

The great irony of Fierce is that all the accusations of shallowness and superficiality it levels at the music industry could be equally applied to its own script and characterization. One cliché piles on top of another until the whole thing is so ungainly that it can’t even get a groove going for a bunch of cookie-cutter song-and-dance numbers meant to mimic the assembly-line artlessness of pop music without actually doing anything subversive to make the performances interesting on their own terms. This is the kind of film that knows what it wants to be about but not how to actually be about it. Eventually, it just turns into the very thing it’s ostensibly making a mockery of.


For more recaps, reviews, and original features covering the world of entertainment, why not follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.