In the fifties upstate New York, Legs (Raven Adamson) is an athletic, charismatic girl with feminist ideals about female pride and solidarity who eventually leads a street gang of girls from troubled backgrounds. The girls see themselves as feminists and every man as a potential enemy. Maddy (Katie 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. The film differs from the novel in many ways, most notably the change of setting from 1950s upstate New York to the Pacific Northwest in the 1990s. In the film, most of the Foxfire members come from comfortable suburban families; in the novel, they are working class girls from the “wrong side of the tracks” whose families suffer from domestic problems such as child abuse and alcoholism. The novel also covers a period of about three and a half years, while the film’s action takes place during the course of a few weeks.
Laurent Cantet (The Class) crosses the Atlantic for his version of “Foxfire”. Re-appropriating a traditionally male genre, the film’s female perspective highlights the inequality between the sexes during the period, whilst also trying to show the girls to be worthy adversaries to their male counterparts with a hint at Francis Ford Coppola´s “The Outsiders”. I was hoping for an emotional journey and strong performances in “Foxfire”, but this way too long coming of age story suffers first of all from theatrical and not very convincing acting from all involved. Cantet leaves us with a cold, objective look upon all characters committing all sorts of horrible acts and when every male character is portrayed as sleazy would-be rapists I simply can´t buy into the story that becomes so overbalanced on one side it´s ridiculous. The girls themselves are not very likeable either, which creates even further problems in the protagonist/ antagonist structure within the film. And a small detail such as Adamson spending half of the movie with a seriously bad wig on her head, doesn´t help either. Cantet´s direction takes the film not even close to where it should´ve gone. “Foxfire” is a disappointing one. (2 and a half out of 5)

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