The Runaways (2010)
This fizzy 1970s glam rock biopic on the teen girl rock group The Runaways is a fairly shallow tale elevated by a handful of strong performances. All but completely ignoring the other members of the famous girl group, the movie focuses on lead singer Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) and guitarist Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart). Both actresses slip under the skin of their real-life figures, imbuing the anger, desperation, and sheer nerve of pubescent rock stars being exploited. Watching Stewart’s attitude-filled strut, or how Fanning transforms from any other California girl into a slinking rock goddess igniting a Tokyo stage, is downright exciting to behold. But the chief reason to watch this film is Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) as the group’s flamboyant, lewd manager who put the girls together. Shannon is his typical bug-eyed sensational self, but the profane tirades he unleashes are downright poetic. He gives the movie a desperately needed pulse, and thus when he leaves the screen he also takes most of our interest. The biggest issue The Runaways has is that writer/director Floria Sigismondi doesn’t convince us why any of this matters. We watch the girls get together, play their first gigs, improve musically, and then all of a sudden they’re famous thanks to a magazine headline montage. Then they’re broken up. You neither feel the rise nor the fall, nor do you ever truly get a good feel for any of the characters. The Runaways spends too much time posing and trying to look fierce when it should have spent more attention on a decent script.
Nate’s Grade: C