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DVD: Foxfire - Confessions of a Girl Gang | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Foxfire - Confessions of a Girl Gang

DVD: Foxfire - Confessions of a Girl Gang

Not enough fire in French-directed drama about wayward girls with more than enough axes to grind

Watch out, the Foxfire gang are about. Raven Adamson as Legs, centre

Directed by a Frenchmen, Foxfire adapts an American book to create a film with an archetypical stance and setting which could rank it alongside The Outsiders, Stand by Me or even Rebel Without a Cause. The problem is that despite depicting a passionate, wayward and issue-fuelled gang, Foxfire is not animated enough. It unfolds in deliberate steps, like a stage play.

The young women may be on fire, but the measured approach of the overlong film tempers their spirit.

Foxfire - Confessions of a Girl Gang is Laurent Cantet’s rendering of the Joyce Carol Oates novel of the same name. It’s been filmed before, in 1996 with an up-and-coming Angelina Jolie. That version switched the story from the mid-Fifties to the present, changed its geographical setting to Oregon from New York State, telescoped the narrative down to days rather than years and messed with the plot. Cantet has stayed faithful to the setting, locality and time frame, although he has made the book’s episodic nature more linear for on-screen clarity.

Before Foxfire, Cantet hit a career peak with The Class (Entre les murs), a wonderful and naturalistic portrayal of a year at school. Also adapted from a book, it similarly dealt with young people and their relationship with the adult world. Foxfire goes further: its girls are subjugated, abused, assaulted  and demeaned by males of all ages in and out of school. The charismatic and driven Legs (Raven Adamson) draws inspiration from an openly left wing older man. He, like her, is wildly at variance with this America. She and her friend, chronicler and confessor Maddy (Katie Coseni) – who also narrates the film, as the character did in the book – gather like-minded girls and form the Foxfire gang. The mischief they get up to becomes increasingly serious and more and more extreme in this off-balance coming-of-age drama.

Cantet is helped by his extraordinary leads – it is the first time on film for all the actors playing the gang members (all are from Canada, where it was filmed), and Adamson is an especially bright light. But the film’s deliberate pacing is accompanied by a lack of nuance. With the exception of a real-estate agent, all men are immoral, unpleasant or predatory. Despite the gang’s own transgressions, this is a black-and-white world, and the protagonists' world alone. Cantet explains his approach in a DVD extra (the trailer is also included), but although strongly rendered, Foxfire - Confessions of a Girl Gang does not entirely convince.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Overleaf: Watch the trailer for Foxfire

Watch the trailer for Foxfire

'Foxfire' unfolds in deliberate steps like a stage play


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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