Gifted filmmaker Cantet (The Class) packs this fascinating story with vivid characters, but fails to shape the narrative into something that holds our attention. This is precision filmmaking, expertly recreating a period to adapt Joyce Carol Oates' iconic novel, but the movie is so long and meandering that it never builds up any momentum at all.

It's set in 1955, when 14-year-old Legs (Adamson) teams up with her best pal Maddy (Coseni) to form a secret society called Foxfire with their friends Rita, Goldie and Lana (Bisson, Mazerolle and Moyles). Their plan is to stick up for each other in the face of male persecution, and their first act together is to humiliate a sexist teacher. From here they get bolder, attacking Maddy's abusive uncle and waging war on the school bullies. Then a run-in with the law leaves Legs locked up in a girls' home. When she gets out, she rents a farmhouse where they can live together, but the money runs short so they start indulging in petty crimes. Then they plan an audacious kidnapping.

Cantet stages all of this so adeptly that it feels like a true story, complete with random details about the situations and characters. And since these girls all come from broken homes and struggle against gender inequality, we root for them to succeed. To a point. It's one thing to corner a predatory man; it's another to prey on someone who is completely innocent. So when they do that, it's impossible to see them as anything other than criminals.

Continue reading: Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang Review