Brandon's Sundance Review: Floria Sigismondi's Runaways
by Brandon Lee Tenney
January 29, 2010
If ever there was film that was a perfect fit for this year's Sundance, it's The Runaways. This fest is all about rebellion, and not many people embody rebellion more than Joan Jett and The Runaways. Focusing on Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, over-sexualized teenage girls living the wild, reckless lifestyle of rock 'n' roll super stars, the film chronicles the band's conception, its rise to stardom, and its fall. Under the abusive management of Kim Fowley (played by Michael Shannon), the girls struggle with their budding sexuality, drugs, and the pressures of being stars.
What's most disappointing about the film is that there are a few truly great performances that get swallowed by the meandering, boring, slapdash story. Kristen Stewart captures the intensity, angst, and presence of Joan Jett. Michael Shannon owns the wild role of Fowley. And Dakota Fanning continues to be incredible in anything that can be projected on screen. Just as Cherie Currie was sexualized while a teenager in the seventies, the filmmakers and Fanning challenge the audience not to become ephebophiliacs. The film often wins.
Despite its performances, however, The Runaways is just mind-numbing. The first thirty minutes have real attitude, teeth, claws, and bras, but it quickly slows to a crawl. For the remaining hour and a half, it meanders through different points in The Runaways's history, compressing the events, rushing their outcomes, and destroying all context. It feels heartless. Soulless. It's an R-rated film without a distinct audience. More so, it's just a poorly constructed, shoddily-directed, uninteresting biopic.
Brandon's Sundance Rating: 5 out of 10