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
Benicio Del Toro, Julio Medem, Laurent Cantet and Cannes Film Festival - Gaspar Noe, Benicio del Toro, Laurent Cantet, Eli Suleima, Pablo Trapero and Julio Medem Wednesday 23rd May 2012 Photocall for '7 Dias En La Habana' (7 Days in Havana) during the 65th annual Cannes Film Festival
Cantet spent months auditing Bégaudeau's classes and ended-up casting many of the students as themselves in the film. Like many of its egregious American counterparts (Dangerous Minds and Freedom Writers, to name a few), Cantet has outfitted Bégaudeau with a melting pot of cultural and racial variants to contend with, including a goth and a smart Asian kid. Unlike those films, however, there is no effort to pigeonhole these identities, nor is there any effort to sanctify François. Though it garners much of its action through simple debate, one of the film's central dramas concerns François accusing two of his students of "acting like skanks." The teacher never becomes characterized as sinner or saint, and it reveals a great deal of depth in Cantet's material.
Continue reading: The Class Review
But down at the beach, things are beautiful. The upscale resort at which most of the film takes place is popular with women of a certain age who come alone not just for the weather but for the attention of the local beach boys who wander around, strike up flirtations, and provide sexual favors in exchange for gifts.
Continue reading: Heading South Review
Frank (Jalil Lespert) comes home from a business College to work a summer internship in the management office with the same company that employs his father (Jean-Claude Vallod) who is a factory worker there. Right from the start, Human Resources sets up the contentious scenario of father versus son, but it's a credit to the intelligence of the script, by Laurent Cantet and Gilles Marchand, that it doesn't follow a plot line that you would expect it to.
Continue reading: Human Resources Review
Ennui and discontent aren't exactly propelling forces, which is why Time Out falls a bit flat. It isn't that the film is inadequate -- far from it. Like a long stretch of unemployment, too much dissatisfaction can lose its charm.
Continue reading: Time Out Review
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