Fans of Kristen Stewart (“Twilight”) and Dakota Fanning (too many to cite) will quite possibly flock to “The Runaways,” a girl rock and roll story based on the real lives of rockers Joan Jett and Cherie Currie.
But the film, which premiered at Sundance on Sunday and is to be released nationally by Apparition in March, ain’t close to what it should be. The story of the making of the first female rock and roll band should be edgy and a whole lot of fun.
Sadly, there’s not much story there to have fun with. Currie and Jett were about 15 when they were discovered and molded by the record producer Kim Fowley (played with entertaining vigor and lots of lipstick by Michael Shannon).
Fowley gets the best line in the film as he urges the girls to lose their inhibitions: "It's not about women's lib," he exhort. "It's about women's libido."
Jett played by Stewart is a stick figure rather than a raging rocket of musical ambition. We never get what drives her. Fanning gives a much stronger performance as Currie – dyed blonde hair, heavy make-up and a tendency to channel David Bowie – but she’s ultimately the less interesting character than the more famous Jett.
There are some interesting and dangerous choices made here, notably Fanning’s decision to play heavy drugs and lesbian sex scenes at the tender age of 15.
Not surprisingly, the full house at the Eccles seemed to love the film. Jett and Currie were both there, as were Stewart and Fanning and crowds of fans. Director Floria Sigismonde said, “What drew me to the story was what the girls stood for.”
Asked from the audience whether she was glad to see the strides women had made in 30 years, Jett didn’t take the bait.
“I don’t think things have changed at all, “ she said, wearing a dark jacket over red sequined leggings. “Thirty years after The Runaways, the girls with guitars are still out there. What’s so threatening about girls playing rock and roll?”
Here's a shot of the two of them at the after-party on Main Street.
And here’s a video of the ever-timid Stewart answering a question about playing Jett (listen carefully), and Fanning talking about Currie. Jett can be seen in the background.