Typically these days, I’ll use the slightly ironic phrase “It didn’t suck!” to describe something that was far from sucking, that was actually very, very good. In the case of the film The Runaways, I also find myself saying, “It didn’t suck,” only this time in a flat, uninterested monotone. For a movie about an in-your-face, flash-in-the-pan, kick-ass-girls-band in a time when girls didn’t rock, having a reaction equivalent to that shrug of the shoulders feels like a personal kick in the teeth to the film. So what if it’s true.
The Runaways is sexy in the way that showing two girls making out is sexy, but taking away that, it is your standard sex, drugs, rock-and-roll fare. Plebian at best, I might say in slight derision. I wanted to like this film, I wanted to like the story, but the story itself wasn’t all that interesting. Maybe the true story wasn’t that interesting to begin with, I don’t know.
But believe the hype: What elevates the film above its story and its presentation are the two lead actresses. Fanning is just on the cusp of adulthood… – wait, scratch that. Fanning is 17 years old and about to enter the legal voting age. No one who thinks they are an adult at 21 or 25 thinks they were anymore when they get to 35. Working in the cutthroat Hollywood industry, Fanning may be a veteran and older than her years, but she’s still a kid. So in lieu of being asked to fight a war and grow up a little faster, we’ll say that Fanning is on the cusp of being friends with someone who is of legal drinking age.
I digress, but the awkwardness of Fanning’s body transition to “adulthood” works perfectly with the role of Cheri Currie, the likewise underage “jailbait” lead singer, as quoted from the band’s enthusiastic manager. Fanning’s exploration of her new sexuality in a teeny, adolescent body, feels clumsy, new, awkward to look at, and strange. It’s difficult to know where the acting began and Fanning ended.
Similar in start-and-end, but entirely different in presentation, Kristen Stewart owns the poise, body language, and attitude of Joan Jett. She bears a striking resemblance to the singer, and has an undeniable presence in every scene she’s in.
Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning didn’t suck, but their movie vehicle almost did.