Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy) is Annie Nations, an elderly but strong-willed widow who lives alone on her farm in northern Georgia. The ghost of her cantankerous husband (Hume Cronyn, Cocoon) keeps Annie company, but when her son (John Denver, Oh God!) asks her to come with him to Florida, Annie must decide whether to stay close to the things she loves or start a new life somewhere else.
Reaction & Thoughts:
“”…the old ones are just hanging on like foxfire on rotten wood.”
Although it deals with many important issues that are still relevant today, Hallmark Hall of Fame’s made-for-television-movie Foxfire feels a bit forced and lacks an emotional punch. Despite its flaws, the extraordinarily good work of Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn and singer John Denver makes Foxfire well worth watching.
Novelist Susan Cooper adapted the stage play she co-wrote with Cronyn. The original play, starring Tandy, Cronyn and Keith Carradine (Nashville), debuted on Broadway in 1982. It was a hit and Tandy walked away with a Tony award for Best Actress. The play is based on The Foxfire Books about the Appalachian culture in northern Georgia.
I liked the premise of the story. Foxfire is not only about a culture on the verge of extinction, but also about old age, love, death and people’s ability/inability to move on. Tandy’s Annie is a fighter and survivor, but her identity is so entwined with that of her dead husband’s (and the land) that any talk about the future overwhelms her. I imagine this is a dilemma faced by people who have lost their lifelong partner.
It’s a pity that the story is told in a rather unimaginative manner. The film is deficient in cinematic quality. The flashbacks are staged in a pedestrian manner. The story has many touching moments, but the narrative builds to an anemic climax. The pivotal moment when the old lady makes her decision is treated with such disdain!
Thank heavens for Jessica Tandy, who does an amazingly good job as the feisty mountain woman. Foxfire has Tandy’s real-life husband Cronyn and singer John Denver (he sings a couple of songs!), but it’s a one-woman-show. Tandy, who won an Emmy for performance, gives a stunning, complex, multi-layered performance. She is supposed to represent the indomitable spirit of the mountain people and Tandy conveys exactly that and then some more — it’s one of her best performances.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
I didn’t like Foxfire as much as I expected. The material probably worked better as a stage play. However, because ageism is more prevalent now than ever before, I was happy to see a movie that explores the problems of the aging population. I also liked the fact that Foxfire wasn’t afraid to talk about death. Jessica Tandy’s brilliant performance is another reason to give the movie a chance. Color, 98 minutes, Not Rated.
Followed by To Dance with the White Dog (1993)