Over the weekend, I happened to catch the short film Foxes. It’s streaming on Hulu+ mobile (my frustration with the fact that there are some things I can’t view on my phone is enormous. I’m totally willing to watch and not click through ads, Hulu! Why are you not willing to be streamed mobile-ly? SOME OF US DON’T HAVE LAPTOPS) and I needed a distraction after dealing with a random tweaked muscle in my neck.
Foxes, originally released in Ireland in 2011, is the story of a couple in the middle of a change. They’ve recently moved house, a decision made by the husband, James, as a result of a successful promotion at work. Ellen, his discontent wife, is a photographer who just can’t manage to get her feet on the ground in their new location.
The conceits of “a lack of communication” and “a dissatisfied marriage” aren’t exactly breaking new ground as far as filmmaking goes, but that’s where Foxes goes from typical to anything but. Ellen, our focal point as audience members, becomes fascinated by the foxes rooting through her trash bins one night, and the next day decides to follow them to their natural habitat. She takes a series of increasingly intimate photographs, and as though they can communicate — as if they can understand her — they follow her back home, terrorizing her when she comes down from her upstairs bedroom to interact with them again.
For a film that clocks in at just 16 minutes, Foxes is visually stunning but also haunting as hell. Ellen eschews her life and responsibilities, and in the film’s final moments, seems to have disappeared all together, although the ending is open enough that there are multiple interpretations to be considered.
Here’s the thing that resonated with me the most about Foxes: it’s a film about dissatisfaction, and the lengths folks will go to curb it, or to change it without ever having to actually do the work. Ellen, unsatisfied and underworked and mostly alone, finds a sort of solace with these wild animals. They are as much a part of her as her husband is, maybe even moreso, because he is allowed and expected to leave their home each and every day, leaving her in their large new house to languish alone. It’s a heightened, almost painful existence, but probably something everybody’s experienced; the idea of being utterly useless, while everyone else around you is progressing forward.
Ellen feels “other”, and she reacts that way, finding an escape hatch and using it. My question isn’t — why does she go, or why is she slowly losing her mind? I already know those answers. My questions is — what is the point entirely? Are we all supposed to find our inner “foxes”?
I don’t know, but it was certainly a mindfuck. I’ve watched it twice and still don’t have any answers. If you would like to discuss escape hatches, or film surrealism, or even animals you could turn into, if given half the chance, please drop me a line! Otherwise, definitely check out this movie. It’s disturbing as hell, but certainly worth a watch.