Before he was leering in the private lives of unscrupulous couples, Adrian Lyne cut his teeth on the sordid lives of American teenage girls with Foxes, his directorial debut.
The titular bunch features Jodie Foster, Cherie Currie, Marilyn Kagan, and Kandice Stroh. Outside of Foster, most were relative amateurs at the time (Currie went on to be the lead vocalist of The Runaways). They’re four teenagers who routinely blow off school in favor of building their own secondary family, away from their problematic ones. Boys come and go; their friendship is built on loyalty and looking out for each other.
The girls spend their days sleeping at each other’s houses, hanging out together, trading secrets, using drugs, and helping the one friend in their group who always overdoes it. Foster’s Jeanie, who is the most put together of the young women, becomes the focal point. Jeanie serves as her friend group’s de-facto mother-figure. She’s far more emotionally intelligent and attentive enough to know where the line of danger is, all while doing her best not to cross it.
One of the key relationships in the movie is that of Jeanie and her mother (Sally Kellerman). Her mom does what we half-expect Jeanie to do: cycle through boyfriends and be the perennial victim of one bad life decision after another. She’s divorced in her mid-thirties, having been married to a rock promoter. She tries to keep Jeanie from making the same mistakes she did, but as someone who gave birth at roughly the same age her daughter is now, she doesn’t have the usual motherly grip on life.
Kellerman’s crowning moment is during one of the extended scenes she has with Jeanie. They’re few and far between, but they’re on-point like a cactus. “I don’t even know who you are,” she tells her with the level of pain only a mother can convey sans tears. “You look like kids, but you don’t act like it. You’re short forty-year-olds… and you’re tough ones.” A four-star line is a terrible thing to waste in a movie. Kellerman delivers it exceptionally.
These moments, when viewed in the present, show the relatability of Foxes hasn’t waned. Even its choice soundtrack (the film’s theme song is Donna Summer’s “On the Radio”) has aged rather gracefully. It also doesn’t over-stylize itself insofar that it became a relic as soon as the world entered the nineties. Lyne’s trademark visual style was evidently birthed early. He uses muted colors and familiarly drab interiors as if to put greater attention on the young ensemble. His economical sensibilities for structure are germane with Gerald Ayres’ script. Few scenes feel too long and every conversation holds some significance in understanding the characters and their motivations.
There’s no doubt a stronger parental foundation would benefit these girls, but the undertones of Foxes suggests something darker. The culture moves so quickly, and the stress that wears on a teenager of remaining loyal to their friends or endure pariah status, suggests that methods that could be deemed as “good parenting” might not be strong enough to negate their experimentation with booze, weed, and pills. This is layered stuff from Lyne; material not sugarcoated by an assembly of party scenes that makes us envy the characters’ lifestyles. There’s a serious comedown and a doomy reality waiting for these girls. We get a taste of it in the climax. When the movie ends, another one should start.
NOTE: As of this writing, Foxes is available to watch on YouTube, free of charge.
OTHER REVIEWS OF ADRIAN LYNE FILMS:
My review of Deep Water
My review of Fatal Attraction
My review of Flashdance
My review of Indecent Proposal
My review of Jacob’s Ladder
My review of Lolita (1997)
My review of Nine ½ Weeks
My review of Unfaithful
Starring: Jodie Foster, Sally Kellerman, Cherie Currie, Marilyn Kagan, Kandice Stroh, Scott Baio, and Randy Quaid. Directed by: Adrian Lyne.
Steve Pulaski has been reviewing movies since 2009 for a barrage of different outlets. He graduated North Central College in 2018 and currently works as an on-air radio personality. He also hosts a weekly movie podcast called "Sleepless with Steve," dedicated to film and the film industry, on his YouTube channel. In addition to writing, he's a die-hard Chicago Bears fan and has two cats, appropriately named Siskel and Ebert!