Foxfire (R15)

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The ViewQueenstown Review

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Review byMatthew Turner8/08/2013

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 143 mins

Impressively directed and featuring impeccable production design work, this is an engaging and thought-provoking drama with a superb script and terrific performances from its cast of young unknowns.

What's it all about?
Directed by Laurent Cantet, Foxfire (alternate title: Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang) is based on the 1993 novel by Joyce Carol Oates. Set in 1950s upstate New York, the film begins with charismatic, radical-minded outsider Legs (Raven Adamson) befriending bookish ginger documentarian-slash-voiceover provider Maddy (Katie Coseni), after which they humiliate a sexist teacher and severely beat Maddy's paedophile uncle.

The pair's notoriety brings other girls flocking to their cause and they soon decide to form a secret society called Foxfire, dedicated to revenging themselves against men who have done them harm. However, when the group move into a dilapidated house and attempt to live together, they soon fall foul of petty jealousies and the cracks begin to show.

The Good
Director Laurent Cantet (who won the Palme D'Or for 2008's The Class) co-wrote the script and gets terrific performances from his cast of young unknowns. Stand-out performances include Adamson, Coseni and Madeleine Bisson as feisty Rita O'Hagan, whose liking for boys doesn't go down too well with the other members of the gang.

The script explores a number of themes that are powerful and resonant, particularly in the current climate - it also feels resolutely non-Hollywood, despite its strongly American performances and setting, so much so that it could almost be seen as a slap in the face to most studio pictures (the Hollywood version of this film was basically a sexy vehicle for a young Angelina Jolie back in 1996).

The Great
The production design work is impeccable throughout and there's a pleasing amount of period detail, even in the dialogue. Similarly, the soundtrack is excellent and includes songs that feel realistic to the time, rather than a random selection of popular 50s rock and roll tracks.

Indeed, the only real problem with the film is that it holds off on exploring any ideas of lesbianism between the various gang members, preferring to leave it dangling as subtext; this seems an odd decision, particularly given how well the script handles the general group dynamic overall.

Worth seeing?
Impressively directed and superbly written, this is a riveting and emotionally engaging drama with some thought-provoking ideas and terrific performances from its young cast of unknowns. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 22/10/2017 10:29

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