Sundance 2010 Review: THE RUNAWAYS

Directed By: Floria Sigismondi 

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Scout Taylor-Compton, Alia Shawkat, Michael Shannon

Synopsis:

The Runaways is based on lead-singer Cherie Currie's book 'Neon Angel' - a reflection of her experiences as a rock star, but also delivering a strong anti-drug warning to teens and others. David Bowie's "Space Oddity" serves as a metaphor for the narrative-- a slow countdown, a surreal but spectacular rise to fame, then alienation and burnout - a long long way from home.

The movie chronicles THE RUNAWAYS from 1975 - 1977; formed by teenage girls living near Hollywood, CA., and heavily manipulated by their manager Kim Fowley as 'jailbait rock' (all the girls were 16 or younger when the band recorded their first album). The band ultimately succeeds on their own merits as musicians, becoming the first all-girl rock-band to ever break into the world of arena-filling hard rock acts.

Review:

I was looking forward to seeing this film up at Sundance, I love the music and the era that this movie takes place in. Unfortunately, the film was poorly executed as a biopic. I’d go as far to say that it was just plain sloppy filmmaking. The story in the film had no flow to it, it was just random scenes and random event’s that took place in the lives of this all girl band, sure the scenes were placed in chronological order, but there was no soul behind the film or these characters. I never got a sense of what the characters were were supposed to be feeling. It’s weird because it seemed like the director tried very hard to make this film detailed and gritty, but everything seemed very monotone and flat.

One of the main turning point’s in Cheri Currie’s career is when she hit rock bottom with drugs. It's this single event that changed her life forever. It seemed like they barely touched on that in the film. It was in the movie, but it didn’t feel like it was as bad as we’ve heard. In watching the movie it seemed like she had a very minor drug problem. I was just expecting more weight to the movie, but as hardcore and punk rock as this film tried to be, it seems like there was some reluctancy and they pulled back on a few things to make it lighter. Possibly for the Twilight audience? I don’t know, but I didn't feel a sense of urgency or worry. 

The director and writer of the film is from a video artist by the name of Floria Sigismondi.  Even though this movie was done by a video artist who you think would make some crazy stuff, the film seemed like it was developed within a studio system. There was nothing different, new or original in this movie. It was like anyone could have made it, and anyone could have been cast in these characters. There was nothing to make it stand out.

The performances in the film were fine, everyone did a good job portraying their characters, but none of the performances of the girls blew me away. Stewart definitely had the look of Joan Jett though. The one performance that I did enjoy was that of Michael Shannon. Out of everyone involved in the film, he was the best talent they had. 

The movie definitely tries to shock the audience with some things, like Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart making out with each other. It just ended up being more annoying than anything for the fact that they pushed it too hard in the audience’s face. It wasn’t like they were trying to make a story point, it was like they were trying to say, “Hey look at Stewart and Fanning making out. If we put this in there, it will sell more tickets.” You’ve definitely never seen Fanning like this before. They sure do try to sexy her up in this and filmed her in a light I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to see her in. It just felt wrong watching her up on screen like that. 

There is a great story to be told here, but I was disappointed. This should have been a much better film in my opinion. 

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