My pleas for people to send me the titles of feminist films of the
1990s that I have missed, mainly because they haven't played Tampa, at
not while I was in town, are beginning to pay off. I've received several
tips, including an e-mail message the other day from someone who reads my
reviews on the web who wanted to know why I hadn't reviewed Foxfire which
she rated right up there with Antonia's Line as the best feminist films in
recent memory. With that kind of high praise I went right out and got a
copy of the video. And I need to say thanks to that person for the good
tip. I didn't think it was in a class with Antonia's Line (in fact it's a
lot more like Marlene Gorris's first film A Question of Silence) but it is
indeed a very interesting and unusual feminist film. It was made in 1996
and is the first feature film directed by Annette Carter-Heywood who has
short films, tv segments and a lot of experience as a script supervisor in
her background. It looks like she was paying attention during all that
on the set because her directing skills are well developed and on display
Foxfire. She gets the most out of a largely inexperienced cast of young
A Film Review by
Linda Lopez McAlister
on "The Women's Show"
WMNF-FM 88.5, Tampa, FL
May 29, 1999
Yes, young. Believe it or not, this is yet another high school
film, but one with a difference. It is a feminist high school film. I
guess it's not the only one ever made (Girls Town would be another) but
it's a rare breed. And this one falls squarely into my category of a
"comeuppance film." It is based, quite loosely I gather, on a 1993 novel
Joyce Carol Oates called Foxfire: Confessions of A Girl Gang. Apparently
screenwriter Elizabeth White took a lot of liberties with the story and
changed the ending completely.
Nonetheless, the film stands on its own as a much more interesting
than you usually find in either a typical high school film or the typical
"who-was-that-stranger-anyway?" Western that it often resembles (even
it's not a western).
It starts out in in biology class in a seemingly typical high school
Oregon . They're about to dissect a frog and one of the girls simply
bring herself to do it. She is bullied and browbeaten by the teacher when
very tall, lanky young woman in black jeans and a black leather jacket
(Angelina Jolie) walks into the room (for reasons never explained) and
down. After she sees what is going on she calmly walks over and releases
the frog and tosses him out the window. When the teacher threatens her
simply follows the frog out the window while announcing that she doesn't
to that school anyway.
Later, in the girls' bathroom to which she has retreated, she learns
the same biology teacher has been sexually harassing the young woman who
couldn't slice into the frog, and now she will have to be alone with him
detention in his classroom. The dark stranger challenges the girls to
prevent that from happening. Several walk away but four stand with her.
They are Maddy, Goldie, Violet, and Rita played by Heddy Burgess, Jenny
Shimizu, Sarah Rosenberg, and Jenny Lewis respectively. Once the
starts and the teacher does too, the others enter the room and rescue Rita
from his clutches and give him a pretty stiff beating while they're at it.
When they get caught and suspended they all gather at an abandoned house
where "Legs," the stranger, is holed up. She preaches a gospel of
independence, assertiveness, and standing up for the rights of others.
They invade the high school, they stand up to a bunch of jocks who
threaten to get them if the teacher is fired because of them, they rescue
one of their own who was about to be kidnapped and raped by the same
And you expect that the film will continue in this vein with the newly
liberated young women following their leader to right wrongs and do good.
It is to the credit of this film that it doesn't proceed in just this
When the summer film fare that's coming up gets you down, do go to a
store and rent Foxfire. I think you'll like it very much.
For the WMNF Women's Show, this is Linda Lopez McAlister on Women and
Copyright 1999. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or reproduce
review without permission of the author: firstname.lastname@example.org