Monday, September 13, 2010

Under 250: The Runaways

I am a huge Runaways fan, and not a big biopic fan, so I was naturally hesitant to see the latest film about the band with KStew and Dakota Fanning as Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, even when Jett herself was an ardent supporter. The film is a great one, greater, I would argue, than the much loved Walk the Line that garnered Reese Witherspoon an Oscar for her role as June Carter Cash. Fanning and Stewart give impressive performances that shatter their respective images as a pale-haired child star and the awkward, wooden vampire lover. I have no trouble believing in Stewart as she struts her leather and guitar clad self on stage, giving the finger and growling in a voice uncannily crafted to match nearly everything about Jett. More importantly, I believe her in the softer moments too, when she drops her act alone in her underwear, writing songs in front of an Iggy & the Stooges poster, or in those close-ups when the strength and drive visible in her eyes seems to be the only thing keeping the band afloat. Fanning is equally stunning for someone so young, playing Curie’s fall from grace with no added dramatics so realistically that one has to wonder if Fanning’s experienced similar problems herself. The pacing, however, does the movie in, dragging the stellar performances and beautiful cinematography down a notch. The ascent to fame for the band and build up of their relationship as a group is sped through at an almost a manic pace, abruptly collapsing and slowing once Currie begins to go over the edge. It doesn’t give the story enough breathing room, making it feel much more unsatisfying and standard than it really is. This is a real girls movie, one that channels the spirit and meaning of the iconic band without betraying their soul. 

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