The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang

A gang of teenage girls wage a feminist war against men.

Directed by: Laurent Cantet
Starring: Raven Adamson, Katie Coseni, Madeleine Bisson

In fifties upstate New York, Legs (Adamson) leads a street gang of girls from troubled backgrounds. The girls see themselves as feminists and evry man as a potential enemy. Maddy (Coseni), a wannabe writer, chronicles the gang's exploits on a battered typewriter, drawn to the charismatic Legs. After serving a stint in a juvenile detention center, Legs pays the first three months on a rundown house and moves the rest of the gang in to the premises, forming a radical commune. To fund their lifestyle, the girls seduce and rob men of their wallets. Legs, however, has bigger ideas and begins to formulate a plan to kidnap a wealthy businessman.
Joyce Carol Oates' 1993 novel has previously been adapted in a 1996 version, notable only for providing an early leading role for Angelina Jolie. It was a trashy affair that exploited the lesbian aspect of the story. Cantet's version, his first movie made in the English language and his follow-up to the Palmes D'Or winning 'The Class', is a far more subtle telling, though another way to describe it would be "dull". Running at a yawn-inducing two hours and 20 minutes, 'Foxfire' resembles a TV mini-series of the type that were always shown in two-parts over a Sunday and Monday evening back in the eighties and early nineties. Apart from the several Ken Loach-esque discussions of radical left-wing politics, Cantet's film wouldn't be out of place on the Lifetime channel. There's no nudity, little in the way of coarse language and the lesbian aspect is only hinted at. Cantet shoots his scenes in a dull, TV fashion.
Cantet makes no judgement call on the actions of his despicable protagonists so the result is a cold, objective look at horrible people committing vile acts. Practically every male character is portrayed as a money-obsessed would-be rapist but the girls themselves are so unlikable (save for Maddy, a possible audience surrogate who Cantet seems to have little interest in) that even the most radical of feminists would find it hard to get with their cause.
The film's bland script and direction are slightly enlivened by the performances of the largely amateur cast. The gang members are all great, resembling real teenage girls rather than Disney Club rejects, and Adamson manages to inject some charisma into a repulsive character. Her unconventional looks may work against her in the image obsessed world of modern American cinema, but she's an actress of great promise.

Eric Hillis