This is a female bonding picture,
which is basically an exploitation movie with a
glossy package. It is slickly directed and well
performed, but ultimately it's just another of those
one dimensional us-against-the-world flicks made to
target a specific target audience. In this case, the
target is teenage girls. Everyone in the movie who
is not a teenage girl is an evil and manipulative
character. The adults are all pigheaded fools who
always stand up for each other and can never
recognize the truth no matter how obvious it is. The
boys are bullying monsters without conscience, and
if you upset them, they'll rape you.
The filmmakers didn't want to shut out the lucrative
market of young males, so the female bonding in this
movie consists of what female bonding should always
consist of in the movies. The women light some
candles, take off their tops, and look gorgeous in
the candlelight. And, better still, only the ones
with really great looking breasts take off their
tops, thus making for even closer bonding.
Aristotle had his unities and I have mine. This
movie did reasonably well at obeying the Scoopian
Unities of Time and Space and Nudity, Unity Seven of
which states: (translated from the original ancient
"Bonding on camera between females shall occur
topless whenever such females have really attractive
Unfortunately, the film violated Unity Eight, which
"Such bonding also to occur bottomless unless the
females in question have really fat, flabby butts or
ugly boils or something."
Weak, nerdy girl is molested by Bio teacher.
Who should ride into town but The Girl With No Name
(Jolie). Unknown origin, clad in leather, with boots
shot in close-up, ala a Sergio Leone western. That
Leone theme continues throughout the movie with
plenty of squinty-eyed close-ups. Anyway, Jolie
teases the abusive bio teacher in his own classroom,
saves a frog from dissection, then exits through the
window of his classroom, like Robin Hood taunting
the Sheriff of Nottingham. Later, at detention, she
kicks his frog-dissecting ass when she catches him
putting his hands on the shy girl.
Of course, the girls are punished with four weeks
suspension by the moronic and arrogant principal,
even though they just rescued one girl from being
molested, and four other girls witnessed the act.
And, of course, the girls accept their punishment
without taking the case to their parents or the
police because those adults are all part of that
adult conspiracy thing.
Later, Jolie (known as "Legs") kicks the asses of
some football bullies and destroys their car. But of
course, she is sentenced to juvie hall by an
arrogant and moronic judge, even though she simply
rescued one of the other girls from a gang-bang.
Then she kidnaps a neglectful abusive father at
Finally, after she has given all nerdy girls
everywhere a new sense of empowerment, she sticks
out her thumb and rides out of town on an
18-wheeler. Oh, I know that ripping off and
modernizing all this imagery from "A Fistful of
Dollars" was kind of cheesy, but I thought it worked
in an iconic kind of way. I could have bought into
it as a neo-Western if it just had a capable script.
When Jolie leaves, the shy girl becomes a confident
sexual dynamo, the girl afraid of heights goes
tightrope walking on some scary suspension bridge
girders, the heroin addict is cured, and everyone's
water is turned into wine. The end.
Good script, eh? This is the only film script that
Elizabeth White has ever written and, God willing,
it will be the last, because the inventive director
and the capable cast, working with the raw material
of a powerful Joyce Carol Oates novel, could have
delivered some punch here - if they only had a real
script to work with. You almost wish they could get
another chance, because they went to summer film
camp and made a bad ash tray from great clay.
I did actually read "Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl
Gang" by Joyce Carol Oates. It is an excellent book,
except for a short epilogue which lacked
credibility. (Years later, someone saw Legs in a
newspaper picture of a crowd of Cuban
And it makes perfect sense in a perfectly realistic
context. Unlike the movie:
- the girls didn't live in an abandoned house in
upstate New York during the school term
- Legs didn't emerge out of nowhere like The Man
With No Name
- the boys didn't blindly come to the defense of
the child molesting teacher
- Legs wasn't released from Juvie because a girl
recanted her testimony.
The movie's changes were all Hollywoodizing.
Legs was a girl who grew up with the others, they
all lived at home with their mommies and daddies at
first. Late in the gang's existence, the girls got
their own house, but they made a regular old rental
deal, and they paid the bills with criminal
activities. Legs got out of the Big House only after
she served her time.
The casting of Hedy Burress and Angelina Jolie was
just inspired, and they could have breathed
greatness into the original story, if anybody had
decided to stick with it. I suppose they decided
that the novel's setting was too uncommercial.
Author Joyce Carol Oates was born in 1938, and the
story begins in 1952, so she used a completely
realistic backdrop - she really was a 14 year old
girl at the time, and she was writing about an era
and a subculture that she knew well. The story takes
place in a fictional town near the eastern shore of
Lake Ontario. Oates went to college at Syracuse (she
was valedictorian), and she knows the upstate area
I don't know whether to recommend it. It's a serious
literary book - the POV is a grown woman looking
back on her teenage diaries, and the actual diaries
form the basis of the story, so it isn't a light and
breezy read, but if you have a more literary bent,
the craftsmanship is brilliant, and it's easy to
follow (there are no confusing devices like
I liked the book a lot.
The movie? No so much.