Runaways, The (2010)

February 23, 2011 By Mike B
Movie Review

What Worked?

Most bio-pics follow a by-the-books routine, and The Runaways is no different; however, the performances save the film from being mundane. The musical rise, the hard crash because of some vice, usually drugs, and the redemption are the typical ground this type of film covers. However, Director Floria Sigismondi fills the screen with enough flash and gloss to keep most of the audience from cringing at the predictability of it all. The three main actors, Dakota Fanning, Kristen Stewart and Michael Shannon, give fully-invested performances that make for an interesting watch.

Dakota Fanning once again proves that she is a force to reckon with, as she extends her already impressive range here playing Cherrie Currie: the sexy kitten with sharp claws, a taste for poison and the heart of a rocker. Fanning shows her sex appeal for the first time, and convincingly belts out Cherrie’s lyrics. She transitions well from a conservatively shy dreamer to a glamorous rock sensation. Where Fanning shines the most are the scenes where she’s at home with her jealous sister and sickly father,as well as when she eventually buckles under the pressures of stardom and leaves. We can sense the anguish in her eyes, and feel the question tattooed in her mind: what if?

Kristen Stewart shows that she is more talented than the “one note actress” that those vampire films make her out to be. Stewart impressively plays Joan Jett with a slouched, rebellious attitude, and aggression. The hair-flipping and lip-biting are surprisingly absent, and her voice as Jett is a wonder. Completing the amazing acting tri-pod is Michael Shannon as Kim Fowley, the band’s manager. Shannon is deliciously quirky and raw, stealing every single scene he’s in.

Besides the performances, the film also projects the complexity of self-empowerment for females. The all female band was legendary for rocking out at the level of men, and the screen is filled with scenes that ooze girl power. Clashing with those scenes is the band’s interaction with Kim Fowley, who is an aggressively dominant male figure.

Potential Drawbacks:

Like I’ve mentioned before, this bio-pic is nothing too special, as it plays it safe, tweaking aspects of the band members lives to make it more accessible. There are also inaccuracies that fill the screen to make the film more digestible.

Yes, the film is called The Runaways, but the film is lopsided, favoring the story of Cherrie Currie. Cherrie’s book is what the film is based on, but there could’ve been more of a back-story for Joan Jett, at the very least.

The relationship between Cherrie and Joan Jett seems as if it only happened because it was in the script. Individually, Fanning and Stewart are gorgeously sharp as Cherrie and Jett, but the relationship between Cherrie and Jett seemed tacked on. There was simply no time for build-up or authenticity. Maybe that’s just the way it happened.

Overall, the film is wild enough; however, enough just doesn’t cut it. It rolls more than it rocks.

Film Recommendations:

Almost Famous
SLC Punk!
Sid and Nancy

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