The Fox (2022) DVD Review: Two Against the World

This German/Austrian co-production dramatizes the real-life story of an Austrian soldier who adopted a fox cub during World War II. If that sounds like a flimsy plot hook to hang a movie on, it is, with the first 40 minutes devoted to needless backstory about the soldier’s formative childhood and teen years spent as an indentured farm laborer. With limited prospects for his future, he grasps at the opportunity to volunteer for Austria’s army, leading to his unplanned life as a Nazi when Austrian forces get folded into Hitler’s war machine.

Buy The Fox (2022) DVD

The film finds its footing once the title character emerges, an orphaned fox cub adopted by the soldier after a chance encounter. The presence of a fox near military action makes for some tense scenes as we worry about how the soldier and animal will survive chain of command scrutiny and life near the front, but the situation improves for the fox once the army occupies a French village and the soldier arranges for temporary animal lodging at a farm. 

The story has a real-life family connection, as writer/director Adrian Goiginger is the great grandson of the soldier, Franz Streitberger. Goiginger is still fairly early in his career, but shows great promise here with a surehanded touch and excellent production values. Simon Morzé is an inspired choice for Franz, exhibiting a moving soulfulness even with limited dialogue as his character tries to keep his humanity in the midst of the dehumanizing war. Real foxes were used and hit their marks well, making for some superbly cute footage as they snuggle in Franz’s uniform and explore their surroundings. No other actors really leave an impression, but they also don’t have much chance as Goiginger keeps the focus firmly on Franz and his fox.

The movie is overlong at two hours, but Goiginger keeps it moving along well. He doesn’t overplay emotions, keeping all scenarios realistic rather than overly saccharine. Despite the adorable animal, the film is more about Franz surviving the war than the fox surviving humans, making this a war movie with a furry incidental co-star. It’s an engaging and beautifully lensed experience, but never one that really pulls on the heartstrings.

The Fox is available on digital platforms on March 22nd, and arrives on DVD on March 26th.

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Steve Geise

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