Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Runaways (2010)

Posted on 9:43 AM by Paolo

''The Runaways'' Review
By Paolo Sardinas

Most bio-pics about hard rocking rockers all begin with the person or band that the film is based on, searching for themselves and looking for a way into the music scene. "The Runaways" fallows suit in almost every way possible but does so it a true and visceral way. The film is set in sunny Southern California a place where teenagers are left out to search for themselves while hanging out at the local burger joints and experimenting with new "things", many of these teens are looking for a way into the music biz, Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, played by Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning, found a way in making rock a place for women as well as men.  
The film works as a double biopic following the tale of Currie (her memoir is what the film is based upon) and Jett as they struggle with fame and making music. Joan seems to be a bit more calm than Currie, who was nearly booed off the stage when she sang her David Bowie's "Lady Grinning Soul" at her school's talent show. Their big break come in the form of Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), a flamboyant promoter and record producer who takes the girls under his control. Fowley brings in Currie and Jett and a couple of other girls and teaches them how to strut like their male counterparts.  
Dakota Fanning as Curie proves her acting skills once again reaming in total control of herself and then letting loose and will on the stage while eventually leaving the band because its all a bit much. Their is an obvious romance between Jett and Curie but its a combination of love and drugs that send Curie out of the band while Jett moves on to create other music. The film is well made but at time it can feel like they could have done more to get inside of these young girls' heads. Floria Sigismondi, a director of music videos, makes her feature film debut here and its fairly evident she knows how to shoot music. Cheri is the pin-up girl and the front man, or woman, for the band while Jett is the hard edged backbone. The two's relationship, an on screen kiss has been the center of discussion for the past few months, are also the biggest enemies , each attempting to get somewhere. Evidently its Jett the one you root for. her iconicism is what makes her relate able to today's teens. The punk aesthetic and raw nerve is what makes her the one you root for.   

Both Stewart and Fanning's performances are the reasons as to why you want to watch this film in the first place. They create these real and believable people who are relate able to all of those punk rockers out there. Stewart, who only other real on-screen experience is playing Bella from the crappy Twilight films, really shows a bit of maturity by taking on this calm, cool, and also complex role. But in the end its Fanning who steals the show from Stewart. Her acting abilities, which have been evident since we first saw her as a child, expands on those abilities here in this film and never lets her character become dull or second rate. At times you'll either be dazzled by her or appalled by her but either way your eye is captured on her performance.  
Michael Shannon as Fowley shows just the right amount of acting prowess that he showed in Revolutionary Road, for which he gained a Best Supporting Actor nod, and creates the whole fearful, but cliched, record producer that has become all too common throughout films like these. But he fits the role and does his best while offering something new.  
Cinematographer BenoƮt Debie shoots the film in a grainy and smeary look which recreates the gritty looks of the 70's punk asthetic. While director Sigismondi's good eye for detail helps guide the film's period piece aspect along. "The Runaways" is not a perfect film nor does it pretend to be, its an energetic re-creation of the wild times and happenings that come along with creating a band; a roller coaster that never seems to end. At times the film loses focus of just who it wants to follow, but whether it be Currie or Jett, Sigismondi shoots each scene with enough energy to immaculate that never ending coaster of "The Runaways".

Grade: B

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