I'll hold off on reviewing the rock opera-soap opera “The Runaways” until the film arrives in a theater near you. But here’s a first reaction from this morning’s Sundance screening, a double-secret event open only to a few lucky members of the press. Through some kind of clerical error I was also admitted.
The film, a raucous biopic of the 1970s all-girl rock band, stars “Twilight” alums Kristen Stewart as dark-haired proto-punk guitarist Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning as blonde pin-up lead singer Cherie Currie.
Like many before them and after, The Runaways broke up due to hard partying, drugs, lovers’ spats and ego wars. The photogenic Currie drew too much attention, split to become a solo artist then flared out, while Jett eventually came into her own and went on to a long performing career.
The movie is a surprising case of art imitating life. Most advance coverage has positioned it as Stewart's movie, “The Joan Jett Story, Co-Starring Her Band.” Actually, second-billed Fanning owns the movie, acting with adult authority remarkable for a 15-year-old.
She gets 70 percent of the close-ups, 80 percent of the dialog, 90 percent of the family drama, and 100 percent of the best wardrobe. She vamps glamorously in Victoria’s Secret garters and corsets while Stewart scowls in leather jeans and tomboy t-shirts.
Even Michael Shannon overshadows Stewart’s Jett as irresistibly sleazy manager Kim Fowler. Makes sense. Rock video director Floria Sigismondi
based her movie on Currie’s score-settling autobiography, “Neon Angel.”