Retrospective Review- “Foxfire”: a Universal Coming-Of-Age Story

Year: 1996

Runtime: 102 Minutes

Director: Annette Haywood-Carter

Writer: Joyce Carol Oates (novel), Elizabeth White (screenplay)

Stars: Hedy Burress, Angelina Jolie, Jenny Lewis, Jenny Shimizu, Sarah Rosenberg

By Zofia Wijaszka

When “Foxfire” came out in 1996, I was only one-year-old. While watching it only a few months ago, it became clear that Annette Haywood-Carter‘s drama exists in the dimension of exceptional productions. Those productions have a crucial influence on young women’s lives.

Meet Legs Sadovsky (Angelina Jolie). Nobody knows where she came from. Tomboy-ish looking, young woman is a mystery, especially to Maddy Wirtz (Hedy Burress). Maddy, a high school teenager, doesn’t even know that Legs will change her life forever. After hearing about the teacher’s sexual harassment, the mystery girl teaches Maddy, Rita (Jenny Lewis), Goldie (Jenny Shimizu), and Violet (Sarah Rosenberg) to stand up against abuse and fight for their rights as women. After Legs convinces Maddy, Rita, and Violet to confront Mr. Buttinger (who harrassed all three of them), the situation gets out of control. What are you girls, hmm? Some kind of gang? Girls who run with foxes and that sort of thing? , he asks.

“The wisdom of the film is still very much present and relevant to today’s world. One would think that 1996 was a long time ago and a lot has changed in twenty-three years. That, furthermore, is sadly not true.”

The students beat him up, and together with Goldie, who witnessed the scene, they run away. The event causes their suspension, but at the same time, brings the lead characters closer to each other. The incredible bond they create begins with the fight for their rights as women but doesn’t end there. This single scene described above represents the unity of women and their extraordinary strength. It may be simple, ordinary, but for a young female viewer, the scene can be critical. That unity depicted there can move the mountains, and “Foxfire” proves it.

fox fire film

As the five of them spend all the free time together, Legs introduces them to the world of womanhood. Their sanctuary is an abandoned house. They rebel against the boys from their high school and Goldie’s overprotective and violent father (Chris Mulkey). Maddy invites Legs to sleep over her house. Young women discover each other’s biggest secrets and dreams. After getting closer to Legs, the other girl matures but also questions her sexuality. If I told you I loved you, would you take it the wrong way?, she asks Legs during one of their deep conversations. At the point when the girl draws nearer and closer, Maddy seems to be distancing herself from her boyfriend (Peter Facinelli). The boy, however, tries to respect the girl’s privacy.

“Foxfire” is a story that will charm many young women entering the age of maturity and growth…It’s about the astonishing story and well-crafted female characters that Annette Haywood-Carter and Elizabeth White created.”

foxfire

This girl gang that Legs subconsciously creates is imperative for the characters’ coming-of-age period. Although short, but still remarkable, the time with Legs transforms them forever. Margaret’s (full name of Jolie’s role) short existence in their previously stable life stirs something in their minds. The young character becomes a symbol of women’s empowerment and womanhood for the other girls. She’s a leader, a mentor on their contorted road to adulthood. She teaches them about standing up to themselves and no taking any shit. In one particular, highly metaphorical and emotional scene, all five of them are in the abandoned house – the asylum from their male-dominated lives.

In candle lit space full of their pictures, they decide to unite forever. One after another, each girl tattoos a little fire on their bodies – a symbol of a fight, freedom. In the scene, the nakedness is not a reason for shame. On the contrary – it’s a celebration of women’s bodies, their autonomies. The depicted scene is a metaphor for a rebirth – katharsis. Like phoenixes from the ashes – Maddy, Goldie, Rita, and Violet transition into full-thinking, independent women who can overcome everything.

foxdire

“Foxfire” is a story that will charm many young women entering the age of maturity and growth. This is not about an amazing, full of twists action. It’s about the astonishing story and well-crafted female characters that Annette Haywood-Carter and Elizabeth White created. The female friendship presented in “Foxfire” is unique and one-of-a-kind. We can even go as far as calling the film “ahead of its time.” In the time of the 90s, the productions often described female friendships as artificial, where one woman despised another and frequently stabbed her in the back, stole her boyfriend/girlfriend, betrayed at work, etc. Among films like that, “Foxfire” was like a beautiful pearl in the ocean.

“Foxfire,” based on the book by Joyce Carol Oates, is one of the best universal coming-of-age stories for young women and women in general.”

The wisdom of the film is still very much present and relevant to today’s world. One would think that 1996 was a long time ago and a lot has changed in twenty-three years. That, furthermore, is sadly not true. Women are still fighting for their rights – freedom to reproduction, equal pay, the right to abortion, etc. It happens not only in the United States but around the world.

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With that, the young female audience needs films like “Foxfire” or Olivia Wilde‘s “Booksmart.” Stories told in the mentioned, as well as other films with similar themes, positively influence the development of young women. They prove and show an authentic, healthy picture of femininity and true women’s friendship, which is not false, but rather the opposite – it can last a lifetime.

Sadly, in the case of “Foxfire,” it’s time for Legs to leave. The girl is not the person who stays in one place for long. You’re in my heart Maddy is the last thing that Legs says before she goes into the bus and drives away. The scene is very emotional, not only for Maddy’s character but also for the audience. The young girl knows that her life has changed, and she will never forget about Margaret.

“Foxfire,” based on the book by Joyce Carol Oates, is one of the best universal coming-of-age stories for young women and women in general. The story of a true female bond will show you that together, we can move mountains.

 

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