The Fox – ★★★★ watchAUT Austrian Film Festival

The Fox – ★★★★ watchAUT Austrian Film Festival

For a multitude of reasons, sometimes we simply cannot convey what we want to say, but in animals, somehow we can pour our souls out to them without realising it; Adrian Goiginger presents this beautifully in his profound film The Fox.

At the beginning of the Second World War, Franz (Simon Morzé), an introverted young Austrian soldier, comes across a wounded fox cub that he looks after and takes to occupied France with him – and through this unique friendship, his own past as an outcast farmers son slowly catches up with him.

The Fox is a film that takes its time, for better or for worse. We get long scenes that work emotionally well, and Simon Morzé has you at all times with his performance. However, the film does suffer from a bit of drag. A lot of time is spent with young Franz that allows us to build the relationship or lack of one that he has with his father, but these moments are just a touch too long in the grand scope of proceedings, especially when we realise that this is a near 2-hour film. The moments that drag are far outweighed by the moments that emotionally grip you. It is a film where not much happens dramatically, but psychologically everything is happening.

Franz and the titular fox’s relationship is a rather beautiful one of two creatures finding each other at the right time and keeping the other alive in different ways. For Franz, the fox is basically his emotional support animal; he feels abandoned by his father and community and is off in a war he does not want to be a part of. He wants to be home, no longer a cog in a destructive wheel. Franz is there to heal his companion physically; as such, a bond is born, a wonderful one that you can only have with animals. In these moments, our heart swells as the two heal one another.

Adrian Goiginger successfully teeters along that very thin line of having us sympathise for Franz, a young man traumatised by experiences when he was a child and from what he has witnessed in WWII, but was still part of a war machine committing atrocities, whether he did, so himself is sadly beyond the point, by having Franz be so traumatised by what is going on around him and absent from some of the brutality (we see the afters rather than be there for it). Goiginger gives us time in The Fox to feel that disgust by juxtaposing these moments with Franz and his furry friend. Does he try to vindicate Franz, who just so happens to also be his grandfather, by not having him present in this violence? I don’t think so, but he finds a delicate balance to ensure this, primarily thanks to Morzé and his relationship with the fox.

Though we can not ignore that no matter what side you were on in the war, trauma was plentiful, and for a character that was already full of trauma, we need to see some humanity in such a situation. Franz’s fox offers him this, a distraction from the brutality he is seeing. It brings comfort to him that he is too afraid to accept from anyone else; he has found his source of comfort and will stick with it. The other strand of The Fox is one that really allows the film to excel. Franz is most likely only in this situation because of what his father did, and the abandonment issues he has with his father linger throughout the entirety of the film, accumulating in an emotionally rewarding finale.

By allowing the audience to make their own mind up on the characters in The Fox, Goiginger is allowed to show how childhood trauma has a potentially never ending effect on a person. Franz is a broken man who has resorted to needing another creature to save and heal him.


The watchAUT Austrian Film Festival taking place in London between 23rd-26th March 2023. For more details, please click here.

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