Review: The Runaways

The Runaways | Flora Sigismondi, 2010

In the 70s the rock n’ roll group The Runaways made history by becoming the first all-female group of its kind. And against all odds, they became a sensation. And as one would expect from a group made up of troubled teenage girls from this time, there is a story about sex, drugs, and jealousy to be told. And so it has been told in Flora Sigismondi’s The Runaways. But while there is an interesting story somewhere in there, the film fails to deliver in that department, and what we have in the end is a typical “greatest hits” biopic with some good things that keep it from being horrible.

In the year 1975, Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) is a rebellion young girl whose parents are separated and don’t pay much attention to her. Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) just spends her time in the streets and clubs and wants to learn how to play the electric guitar. After Joan runs into Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), a famous record producer, she pitches the idea of an all-female rock group. He likes the idea. Eventually, Cherie joins the group and they are on their way to stardom. But of course things don’t go smoothly. There are problems with drugs, money, and, of course, jealousy after Cherie becomes the image of the group due to her marketability as a sex item.

As you can see from that description, and from what I said earlier, there is quite a story to be told here. But  Sigismondi just cuts it down to basics here. If she wanted the movie to be less than two hours long, then she should not have spent half the time telling us how the group was formed. But then again, maybe that was her goal. In that case, she should not have spent so much time with the group’s rise. So, it needed to be at least 30 minutes longer. Also, her direction is very uneven. At times it is very gritty, but then it goes on to being stylish, then back to gritty again. And she doesn’t know which character to focus on. Should she focus on Joan who is the band’s leader, or on Cherie, who is the one with the most problems? But that can also be blamed on the script.

Also, she didn’t get all she could out of her actors. Dakota Fanning was just not up to the job. She just seems  awkward and uncomfortable. And to be honest, I just fount it hard to believe that the little girl from I Am Sam was doing this. I guess that is the biggest problem with child actors, that people grown fond of an image of them and they can’t stand it when they grown up and try more mature roles. Kristen Stewart does the same thing that she does for every role, but it sort of works here. There were times when I was really into her performance, but then she would lick her lips and I would be taken out of the movie. The movie’s true stand out, however, is Michael Shannon. His character is so cold and crazy, and he always excels at that.

In the end, The Runaways is another biopic with nothing special that will make it stand out from other movies of it’s kind.

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