VOD film review: Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang
Philip W Bayles | On 08, Aug 2013
Director: Laurent Cantet
Cast: Katie Coseni, Madeleine Bisson, Claire Mazerolle
Watch online: Curzon Home Cinema
Laurent Cantet’s The Class, winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, struck a chord with audiences and critics because of its unflinching – and sometimes unsettling – view of reality. It was an intimate, almost voyeuristic movie that at times felt more like fact than fiction.
It’s clear that Cantet has tried to make that same brand of lightning strike again with Foxfire, but unfortunately, the finished result is nowhere near as interesting. It’s a long, boring slog of a film, which squanders an admittedly fascinating idea with a poor screenplay.
Based on the novel by Joyce Carol Oates, Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang tells the story of a group of teenage girls in small-town 1950s America who start a gang (called Foxfire), causing random acts of violence and getting revenge on the (mostly male) authority figures they feel have kept them down. Slowly the group grows, but a clash of ideologies between new and old members inevitably leads to tension.
It’s a great premise; a proto-feminist movement like this, playing out at a time when the Cold War is becoming a prominent part of the lives of most average Americans, is ripe for exploration – and for comparison with the modern day. Unfortunately, almost nothing about Foxfire feels remotely connected with real life.
The actors are a fine enough bunch, to be sure; Raven Adamson in particular brings a great deal of charisma to the role of ‘Legs’, the gang’s leader. But the characters they’re playing feel more like members of The Bash Street Kids than actual human beings. You can pretty much slot them all into some standard archetype – Maddy (Katie Coseni) is the quiet one, Goldie (Claire Mazerolle) is the brash one, Rita (Madeleine Bisson) is the girly one, and the others are the interchangeable and forgettable ones who are there to beef up the numbers.
It doesn’t help that the screenplay, co-written by Robin Campillo, is tonally all over the place. Granted, it does try to deliver a message, and there are some interesting points about the hypocrisies of ideology to be had – watch what happens when an African American girl tries to join in. But that message is lost in lines that clash horribly on the ear; overly quixotic talk of socialism and the “chase for happiness”, stereotypical phrases about “welfare cripples” that sound like a bad parody of Rush Limbaugh, and some frankly awful metaphors about friendship and love and other such things.
The events of the film are stretched out over the course of two rather long hours and the finale falls flat as an underwhelming ploy by the girls fizzles out into nothing. It’s a valiant effort to tell an interesting story, but Rebel Without A Cause it certainly ain’t.