Saturday, March 20, 2010


The Runaways is every bit as fearless as a rock 'n' roll film should be.  Music Video-turned-Film director Floria Sigismondi has directed some of the most influencial icons of our time: Christina Aguilera, Björk, David Bowie, The Cure, Sheryl Crow and Marilyn Manson, to name a few.  The Toronto-based director's signature shaky camera work has won her accolades, setting an artistic precedent.  Her latest effort centers around the rise of '70s teen all-girl rock band The Runaways, headed by sex kitten Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) and now-rock icon Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart).  

The band was guided under the tutelage of record producer Kim Crowley (Michael Shannon) whose relentless drive to capitalize from the rock 'n' roll angst he instilled in the girls  brought them to meteoric success around the world, while at the same time tearing the girls apart.  He encourages them to "think with their cocks".  Currie is hand-picked by Crowley as The Runaways' lead singer based on her Brigitte Bardot-like looks.  Jett is the true heart and soul of the group with her sheer talent and no-nonsense dedication to the band's credibility in a time where sexism was much more magnified in rock music than today.  Fanning and Stewart lend their vocals to the film's soundtrack doing credible jobs, while the music is incorporated seamlessly into the storyline.

There are some surprisingly excellent performances in The Runaways, as both Fanning and Stewart really are each others' antitheses.  Fanning takes Currie's youthful naïveté and transforms her into a wild rock goddess; a peach forced to ripen under the heat of the spotlights. When Currie's world begins to crumble, Fanning stays committed and her finest moment in the film is when she finally decides her own, and thus the group's fate.  Stewart is superb as a firecracker with no inhibitions.  At the end of it all, young girls will look at Stewart's portrayal and without a doubt, want to be as cool as Joan Jett, who also was one of the film's Executive Producers.

The true star of the film though undoubtedly is Sigismondi.  She is able to create a world of drug-induced chaos which although uncertain and dangerous, is alluring at the same time.  Other than some odd moments of dialogue which might not have belonged in the time this story took place, everything else felt genuine.  Her use of light, colour and imagery in some of the film's nuanced moments is perfect.  The much talked-about kiss between Fanning and Stewart was gorgeously lit and treated with sensual red hues.  It is a scene which will stick in the public's psyche for many years to come, provided enough people see The Runaways

The Apparition Films release is now in limited release and its official soundtrack is available through Warner Music on March 23, 2010Grade: A

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