[box cover]

Foxfire

Foxfire is a movie for everybody — or at least for everybody who is not cursed with a penis. Based on the novel by Joyce Carol Oates and directed by Annette Haywood-Carter, Angelina Jolie stars as "Legs," a mysterious young woman who turns up in the lives of four confused high-school girls who have to contend with all of the things that geeky, outcast chicks must deal with on a daily basis (being molested by their teachers, tormented and battered by their fathers, assaulted and potentially raped by pretty much any guy in a letterman's jacket). Legs bonds to all of the girls in her own unique, take-no-prisoners style, and while Foxfire is essentially a plotless movie, the various vignettes in which Legs shows her charges how to break the rules and make their own are simultaneously ridiculous and largely entertaining. But Foxfire is nothing more than young-female wish-fulfillment fantasy, and second-rate fantasy at that. By ensuring that there is not a single sympathetic male character in the movie — and even worse, ensuring male characters who get substantial screen time are enormously hostile, sexually deranged, and even violent — Foxfire immediately reveals itself as a film that has an agenda, rather than a work of fiction that seeks to illustrate fundamental truths about the human condition. Many of the overly contrived set-ups in Foxfire simply have no basis in reality (are we really to believe that these female students would be suspended from school because they accused a teacher of sexual harassment? Not frickin' likely, people), and a lot of this is a result of shoddily transporting Oates' novel, which takes place in conservative 1950s upstate New York, to the ultra-liberal 1990s grunge-infested Portland. At least Fight Club, which supposedly deals with the unrealized rage of stifled young men, has a sympathetic, well-rounded female lead in Helena Bonham Carter — there is no male equivalent in Foxfire, which presumably tackles a similar theme from the opposite gender. What's worse, director Carter is often given over to cliché, and what would a contemporary chick-flick be without the scene where all of the girls light candles, put on some music, and dance around the room? Yes, that scene, in all of its awfulness, is here, and the film goes even one step further in a different scene when the girls smoke some grass, take off their shirts, and then tattoo and caress each other in a quasi-lesbian fashion that suggests they will never find the same sort of comfort and security in the arms of man (and that description alone is bound to make many of you guys think Foxfire is worth renting). But for all of its half-baked feminist claptrap, Foxfire is fun in its own strange way, and Fight Club parallels exist — as Fight Club's Jack is beaten down by life only to have the dubious Tyler Durden appear one day, the equally mysterious Legs promises to show her young Foxfire charges how to stand up for themselves, and the chrysalis where the old world is thrown off and a new one is fashioned is, in both films, an abandoned house (the houses look a lot alike, too). Good anamorphic transfer (2.35:1), trailers for Foxfire and Girl, Interrupted.
—JJB



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