After its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday night, reviewers started to weigh in on director Floria Sigismondi’s rock-and-roll biopic, The Runaways. The critics seem to be more or less mezzo mezzo on the pic, as it has yet to receive any major raves or damning disses. But there does seem to be some dissent in the ranks as to whether sulky Twilight star Kristen Stewart or the still-only-15-years-old Dakota Fanning turns in the best performance of the film.
• “The Runaways was the brainchild of ’70s music impresario and Sunset Strip fixture Kim Fowley, inhabited here with cross-eyed, demented glee by Michael Shannon. He paired a brooding, budding rhythm guitarist named Joan Jett — a part Kristen Stewart slips into as easily as a well-worn leather jacket — with Cherie Currie, a trickier fit for Dakota Fanning, who struggles in the underwritten part to find the mojo of the band’s jailbait front-kitten.” —Seth Abramovitch [Movieline]
• “Though sometimes her usual neurotic tics distract, Twilight’s Stewart is a good fit for the tough but good-natured Jett, who carried on as frontwoman after Currie left, then launched a far more successful solo career. In line with many previous roles, Fanning emphasizes Currie’s vulnerability — making her a sexy nice-girl victim — though the bratty, dangerously needy character seen in old clips, discussed by bandmates in Edgeplay, and even glimpsed in Currie’s own book, seems more interesting.” —Dennis Harvey [Variety]
• “Stewart in short-cropped dark hair and dark clothes is the movie’s driving force as Joan Jett. The movie never appreciates Jett’s musical passion and savvy, but it does capture her burning ambition. Fanning gets to play the film’s most flamboyant character with her fishnet stockings and skin-tight corsets, but the trap here is that, for all its truth, it’s repetitive and cliched. Still, the young actress makes you feel the confusions beneath an overconfident facade.” —Kirk Honeycutt [HR]
• “[Fanning] saunters around on screen in her underwear, just as the real life Currie titillated a generation of young men. She strips down, delivers the progression of Currie from sweet little girl with a tough look to bonafied, drug-addled cherry bomb. And along the way, we buy it all. Why? Because Fanning’s performance is mature, emotive and as dynamic as we’ve seen from any young actress in the past 5-years … Stewart captures the intensity perfectly, but never completely immerses herself in the character.” —Neil Miller [Film School Rejects]
• “Dakota was dandy; the movie kind of sucked … Kristen Stewart has one of the most arresting faces in young Hollywood, but she hasn’t been asked to do much acting yet … [she] doesn’t get much of a look-in in beyond brandishing her electric guitar and wallowing in trailer-trash truculence.” —Ella Taylor [NPR]
• “Sigismondi’s film offers a loose, unhurried illustration of manic teen lust panic. From braless KStew packing a vodka-filled water pistol in her leather waistband, to Fanning “finding [her] cock” via a burlesque get-up of gartered stockings and corset, these teen stars (Stewart and Fanning are 19 and 15, respectively) are unapologetically sexualized, which is, well, fucking sexy, and also morally problematic. Which is exactly the point.” —Karina Longworth [Voice Film]