The Runaways [Blu-Ray] Floria Sigismondi

The Runaways [Blu-Ray] Floria Sigismondi
The year is 1975, and a young Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) wants to play electric guitar just like the boys, showing that girls can rock just as hard with the same musical prowess, irreverence and countercultural rage. Enter eccentric music producer Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), a glam-ed up, phoney douche bag with dollar signs in his eyes that sees the potential commercial posturing of "Jail-Fucking-Bait!" They just need some sex to sell, in the form of blonde bombshell/Bardot look-alike Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning), a passive, soft-spoken Bowie freak whose absent parents leave her open to manipulation via validation. Herein lies the birth and implicit flaw of all-girl hard rock band the Runaways, with Currie selling her sexuality when prompted, while Jett screeches, "we're selling the music, not your crotch." Both young actresses dive into their respective roles with gusto; Stewart personifies Jett's angry punk edge with expert physical mimicry, while Fanning internalizes Currie's insecurities with subtlety and intelligence. Their bond and differing trajectories propel the story, aided by music video director Floria Sigismondi's soft focus, washed-out '70s aesthetic. But even though the look is there, with the acting to back it up, some serious flaws in execution keep this good movie from being great. The bandmates drink, do drugs, fuck groupies and fight about their image in such a safe, sanitized manner that it's hard to buy the scope of their struggles, even with the occasional girl-on-girl kiss and Jett taking a piss on a dickhead's guitar. Furthermore, a montage of magazine covers gives a sense that the band have a public presence, but the film never steps back to acknowledge album releases or domestic reaction, jumping to a Japanese tour with screaming fans. Lita Ford (Scout Taylor-Compton) and fictional bassist Robin (Alia Shawcat) stand in the background for the entirety, occasionally yelling a profanity, leaving band dynamics to the main two girls. It helps hone the narrative by limiting things to characterization and female empowerment under the thumb of male expectations, but leaves many question marks about the details. This is discussed briefly in the commentary track with Stewart, Jett and Fanning, while the behind-the-scenes featurette talks a lot about authentic portrayals. (E1)