One of the most buzzed about films at Sundance, “The Runaways” is also among the most disappointing. The story of Joan Jett and the Runaways becomes a whirlwind of garish eye-shadow, outrageous costumes and unbridled girl-power energy ... for the first half.
As the band hits the road, gets famous and struggles with conventional rock star temptations, the air is quickly let out of the balloon.
As Joan, Kristen Stewart does a more adult variation on her stock brooding teen role. She’s a convincing enigma, and it’s still not clear whether she has the chops to move beyond the template.
Lead singer Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) is the protagonist here, but the story of her ascent to superstardom and quick downward spiral feels too rushed, too regimented in its adherence to stock character development tropes. Fanning, in her first true adult role, is sexualized to an uncomfortable extent, scantily dressed, snorting cocaine, downing pills.
While the actress, now 15, will make a successful transition from teen to adult parts, she’s overwhelmed by the activity surrounding her and fails to project the dynamic presence the picture requires.