Comments on watching and making films.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Runaways

Rock biopics have been suffering, considerably, for the last couple of years. Many of them are under budgeted, and have poorly written scripts that give you the kind of simple re-telling of a story that you could find in a Wikipedia article. One of the most horrendous examples was the Darby Crash/Germs biopic What We Do Is Secret. The film glazed over all but the most necessary parts of the story, to give you nothing more than a small smattering of history. It was a film that was barely reasonable to call a biopic. Even as a fiction film, it would have failed for its lack of character development and its expectation of the audience to fill in the blanks. I can't say that The Runaways is too much different.

The Runaways focuses on a very young Joan Jett (played by Kristen Stewart), who meets up with an infamous record producer, Kim Fowley (played to glorious insanity by Michael Shannon), and the two recruit a platinum blonde Cherie Currie (played by Dakota Fanning) to be the singer that will round out their all girl rock band. The story follows The Runaways from their rocky inception, to stardom, to their even rockier break up, and delves briefly into Currie and Jett's immediate future after The Runaways.

Floria Sigismondi, most notable for her music videos, wrote and directed the film, which was based on an autobiography by Cherie Currie. While the film doesn't hold any punches, which is nice, it also seems to leave out a lot about the other girls in the band, most notably Lita Ford, who went on to have a successful solo career after the break up of The Runaways. The story suffers from the fact that it is sandwiched into ninety minutes, as it often times feels like huge chunks are being left out.

The stars of this film deliver fantastically. Kristen Stewart is perfect as the moody, but obviously insecure Joan Jett, a young girl who desperately wants to be the best, but doesn't know how to get there, and is putting her trust in others. Dakota Fanning, as Cherie Currie, is as lost as any girl would be at that age, and walks the fine line between confidence and oblivion constantly. She works hard to make sure that The Runaways succeed, only to be haunted by the idea that she may be giving up the things that matter most in her world. It was strange to watch her disintegrate, I guess because I had accepted her as a little girl, and still saw her that way, but she has definitely grown up, and this film showcases that. And I can't leave out Michael Shannon, a man who has really come into his own these last couple of years. Ten years ago, a guy like him would be relegated to character acting as a thug or a cop, but Shannon is so incredibly talented, he has managed to score some truly individual roles, and you can tell that he gives his all to them.

The Runaways is not a perfect film, but its better than average, and was enjoyable. The cinematography was beautiful, and I would have expected no less from Sigismondi, since her music video's are known for their interesting visuals. And, as much as Kristen Stewart may forever be known as "that girl that was in Twilight, if she dies tomorrow, she can at least be proud of the fact that she has left a few good roles behind her, including this one.

1 comment:

hetyd4580 said...

Interesting blog. There is a fascinating generational component to the Runaways story: Joan Jett, Cherie Curie, et al. are members of Generation Jones (born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Generation X). Understanding the generational context to their story really fills in the picture.

Google Generation Jones, and you’ll see it’s gotten lots of media attention, and many top commentators from many top publications and networks (Washington Post, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) now specifically use this term. In fact, the Associated Press' annual Trend Report chose the Rise of Generation Jones as the #1 trend of 2009. . I found this page helpful because it gives a pretty good overview of recent media interest in GenJones: