April 17, 2010

The Runaways - 2010

Director: Floria Sigismondi
Writer: Floria Sigismondi
Starring: Dakota Fanning, Kristen Stewart, Michael Shannon

"This isn't women's lib, it's womens libido!" Before Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, there was the Runaways. Led by singer Cherie Curie (Fanning) and Joan Jett (Stewart) [and manipulated by creepy manager Kim Fowley (Shannon)], the first all-girl rock and roll band took the world by storm, until substance abuse issues by Curie led to its inevitable demise.

WOW. First of all, I need to take back what I've said in the past about Stewart and Fanning being subpar actresses, as Runaways proves this is not the case. The scenes introducing their characters have Jett being told "Girls don't play electric guitar" and Curie lip-syncing a Bowie song, complete with trademark lightning bolt on her face. I guess they finally found a proper script to suit their talents. Second, it's a rock biopic on level with any other--full of sex, drugs, and music. While the concert scenes stand out as easily the best cinematically of the film (Sigismondi was exclusively a music video director before now), it's nothing to sneeze at. My only major complaint: Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development, Whip It) stars as a fictionalized version of the group's bassist (due to legal issues) and has no real lines of dialogue outside of the songs. I understand that the film's focus is on Curie and Jett, but to underutilize someone so skilled is a shame. Regardless, see this movie if it's playing near you, if only to get educated about an important chapter of music history as I did.

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