The Runaways: Kristen Stewart Transitions From Vampires to Jailbait Rockers

There's a stunt element to the casting of The Runaways: a punked-up, barely-legal Kristen Stewart and a still-underage, barely-dressed Dakota Fanning begging for street cred by playing dress-up as, respectively, Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, frontgirls of the '70s-era teen proto-punk sensation, the Runaways. Watch sweet little Dakota strut around in a corset! Look at the chick from Twilight kissing girls and snorting coke! But under the stylish direction of Floria Sigismondi, what may be a stunt is also a movie worth taking seriously. The film opens in L.A. circa 1975. Brought together by weirdo/record producer Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), the girls develop a "product" based on "women's libido" in place of women's lib. Cherie and Joan become fast friends, drinking pilfered booze under a decaying Hollywood sign, Joan the tomboy Clyde to Cherie's glam Bonnie. With "I want an orgasm!" as their Fowley-dictated rallying cry, the pushing-16-year-olds sell the notion that they're full of cum; young and dumb, it takes them awhile to figure out the dark side of hawking their sexual curiosity. Sigismondi uses abstract imagery to elevate what is otherwise a predictable rock movie. Wide-eyed rise leads to free fall, which leads to rebirth and redemption—and that's fine. There's a guttural pleasure to be had in riding waves of rock-movie cliché spiked with socio-sexual commentary. Only in the latter half, when she abandons forward motion and junks the visual daring and feminist questioning, does the film run into trouble.

 
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