Monday, June 28

The Runaways

It's 1975 and They're About to Explode.

The Runaways is a coming of age biopic based on the 70's girlband of the same name. The screenplay is based on the memoirs of original vocalist, Cherie Currie (played by Dakota Fanning), "Neon Angel: Memoir of a Runaway"and portrays the formation of the band as well as their rise to fame.

I don't know much about The Runaways, of course I know who Joan Jett is, but in general I know absolutely nothing, about them as a band or their music. All of my Runaways knowledge prior to watching this film actually came from reading comments on various websites after they had posted pictures from the set of this film. So really, it wouldn't be cliché of me to say that I went into it not knowing what to expect.

Sometimes when people review a film they'll use that cliché phrase of "those who went into this film expecting (_____) will be sorely disappointed". With this film may reviewers have suggested that the blank word for this film is depth (of storyline). I was one those people expecting depth and thus was sorely disappointed. Honestly, I don't know why anybody would go into this film expecting something that wasn't an in depth story, it is a biopic after all - based on actual in depth people. Apparently the director Floria Sigismondi had previously directed music videos (Sidenote: I'm really showcasing my knowledge of absolutely nothing in this post) and I think you can totally tell that from watching the film - it's very stylish, the music is good and the really dramatic rock and roll scenes are done really well, but it's the bits in between that lacked a bit of substance for me. It sort of seemed like they filmed all the important scenes entirely separate of each other, realised that they didn't flow, so played a song over the link and hoped nobody noticed the really awkward lack of fluidity between the scenes. 

The things I really loved in this film were the 70's clothes - ranging from glam rock to full on punk - I adored the clothes; the music - although I know a few bands from this era (Bowie, Sex Pistols etc), like I said I don't know anything about The Runaways, so it really opened me up to some new music. The other thing I loved in this film was Kristen Stewart's portrayal of Joan Jett.

The only film I've ever seen Kristen in is Panic Room and I'm not anywhere near a Twilight fan (please don't try to convert me, I'm not interested), so I was viewing her acting with pretty much fresh eyes. Like I say, I know of Joan Jett - I've see performances on tv and I've seen her interviewed - and I genuinely think that Kristen Stewart was perfect for this role. I don't know if she was cast because of all the Twilight buzz or if it was just your run of the mill casting, but she is pretty much made for this role. She had Joan's persona, attitude and the presence down. I've seen pictures of Kristen at events and read interviews and she always seems to have a bit of 'punk' personality, so I don't know if it's just how she is, but I seriously loved her in this role, so much so that I wish there had been more of her - I want to know more about Joan Jett (or at least something).

At times it felt like a rock 'n' roll version of Bugsy Malone (the splurge gun, kiddie version), like everyone was too young to be playing their role (especially Dakota Fanning), but I suppose that's ultimately the point of the film. The Runaways were incredibly young when they started out - they were even marketed as 'jailbait' (although that still happens now; they just play a career long game of taboo with the unmentionable word be 'underage'). I suppose this also led to the aspect that I found interesting and explored in more depth. They were manipulated and exploited by their management not only as a result of being young and naive, but also because of them being an all girl group in the male dominated world of rock they were marketed as sexual objects, rather than for their talent they had - "Girls don't play guitar".

What I'm still not sure about is Dakota Fanning. Again, I've only seen Dakota in one film and that was Uptown Girls, so y'know not much to base my Dakota Fanning acting knowledge on there. I'm not sure how convinced I am with her performance. There were parts - the drugged up haze/meltdown moments that she played really well. Then there were other parts, mainly (again) the quieter in-between scenes, in which she sort of mumbled and the character came across as being quite vulnerable and shy. At times this felt quite sincere - like it was a part of the character, whereas at other points it just seemed a bit like, well, she was mumbling.

Ultimately, I would've liked more depth they sort of picked up two plot points along the way of the film - Cherie Curie's life (family, drug use and sexuality) and the whole band manipulation/exploitation, but it felt they only got covered in an offhand sort of way, and more time was spent showing the "rock and roll antics", the softer, more intimate moments seemed sort of neglected. I basically finished the film with exactly the same knowledge of the band as I started with - no more, no less.

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