Laurent Cantet Adapting Joyce Carol Oates’ Foxfire

Posted by November 6, 2010 Comment

There’s already been one movie made of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang; a 1996 adaptation best known for giving Angelina Jolie an early role. That iteration was not entirely faithful to the source, not least because it transposed the action from 1950s New York to the 1990s and the Pacific Northwest.

A new version will begin production in Canada next Summer, under Laurent Cantet, director of The Class and Human Resources. Canada will be standing in for New York, and the 50s setting will be maintained. This is to be Cantet’s English language debut. Presales were started at the AFM, and I’d expect to see this film get a decent release in both the US and UK as well as Cantet’s native France.

I’d imagine this new pass will be somewhat more true to the rebellious nature of the Foxfire gang and the brutality and intensity of Oates’ writing than the relatively light misadventures of Jolie, Hedy Buress, Jenny Shimizu et al in the 96 picture. There’s also a spirit of adventure in the novel, and I’d imagine it will add up to the most commercial venture in Cantet’s catalogue yet.

Here’s a blurb for the book cannibalised from Wikipedia:

The book takes the form of a memoir by Madeline “Maddy” or “Monkey” Wirtz. Maddy is a fifty year old astronomer’s assistant, but as a young girl was one of the five original members of Foxfire. This group included Betty “Goldie” Siegfried, Loretta “Lana” Maguire, Elizabeth “Rita” O’Hagan, and their leader, Margaret “Legs” Sadovsky.

Legs is an athletic, charismatic girl with feminist ideals about female pride and solidarity. She holds a Foxfire initiation ritual on January 1, 1953, involving secret tattoos of the gang’s symbol, a red flame. Soon afterwards, Legs announces her first plan for the gang: the public humiliation of their high school math teacher.

Mr. Buttinger has taken an inappropriate interest in Rita, often mocking her in class and requiring her to stay after school for “disciplinary” sessions where he gropes her breasts. This first Foxfire adventure is non-violent; the girls paint graffiti messages on Mr. Buttinger’s car such as “I TEACH MATH & TICKLE TITS”. His secret now public, Mr. Buttinger is openly laughed at in school and quickly retires from teaching altogether.

Encouraged by this first victory, Foxfire becomes increasingly bold in their activities…

(Last Updated November 6, 2010 7:50 am )