The Runaways hit Sundance like a freight train, thanks to the combined star power of Twilight stars Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning and the characters they play in the musical biopic, “wild and braless” Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, who toured as teenagers with the first all-girl rock band in the 70s.
Jett performed at Sundance Saturday night, and the gang did back-to-back interviews Sunday, culminating in the packed Eccles premiere Sunday night. Rookie writer-director Floria Sigismondi delivers a strange take on what should have been surefire material: skimpily-clad pre-teens being exploited by a manager who knows a good thing when he sees it. While Stewart does what she can with an under-written role, Fanning seems limp-wristed as Currie; she does not rock, nor does the movie. (The girls sing their own songs.) Michael Shannon as manager Kim Fowley gives the picture a much-needed energy boost. “Sing like your sister just fucked your boyfriend in your parents’ bed,” he tells auditioning Currie.
Here’s the 5-minute flip-cam quickie I did with Stewart and Fanning at the super-jammed press day at the Sky Lodge. “The word ‘edgy’ should be abolished,” says Stewart. The story continues on the jump.
After the premiere, Jett and Currie went up on the Eccles stage with the girls. “Everybody knows Joan Jett, but no one knows how bad it was back then,” Stewart said. “We’re lucky as girls to be told we can do whatever we want. That was not the case for Joan.”
“This is very surreal in a good way,” said Jett. “I’m talking about these two becoming us. I have to give them so much credit for their work ethic. It was not just a gig. They were deadly serious about it.” Currie added, “I’m actually shaking right now. I keep saying I know I’m going to wake up from this dream. But I don’t wake up.”
Bob Berney’s Apparition will release The Runaways March 19. Berney knows he faces a marketing challenge. He will try to tap Stewart’s rabid Twilight fans, but they may be turned off by the hard-R, bisexual, drug-taking milieu in the film, which shows girl-on-girl snogging but does not spell out Jett and Currie’s sexual relationship.
“It’s really about the relationship between two girls going through all this stuff,” Berney says, “more than a rock ‘n roll movie. It’s perfect for Sundance. It really is an indie movie. The spirit of the film is close to Joan and Cherie’s do-it-yourself ethic when they were starting the band. Kristen is doing a very different role. We’ll navigate that by showing what the film is—the marketing materials are true to the film, and the younger fanbase has responded well to them. It’s fairly edgy compared to Twilight.”
Here’s new LA Weekly critic Karina Longworth’s The Runaways review.