After a mostly depressing day of dramas, Sundance 2010 got a much needed jolt Sunday night.
The Eccles auditorium was overflowing and every seat was taken for “The Runaways,” a juiced up biopic about rocker Joan Jett and her original group of all-female players, The Runaways circa 1975.
Kristen Stewart, of “Twilight” fame and also another good Sundance film,”Welcome to the Rileys,” plays Jett circa 1975. Dakota Fanning, who is still just 15, takes the role of Cherie Currie, Joan Jett’s founding partner in The Runaways. The movie does feature what seems to be a heavily suggested love scene between the two which should be pretty controversial when “The Runaways” is released by Apparition Films.
There’s a lot going on in “The Runaways,” too: Tatum O’Neal plays Cherie’s mom (Dakota’s mom). And Lisa Marie Presley’s 20-year-old daughter, Riley, plays Dakota’s sister. Yes, Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s granddaughter! Do you feel old now?
“The Runaways” marks the auspicious feature film debut of music video director Floria Sigismondi. The film was scored by Sigismondi’s talented musician husband, Lillian Berlin (yes, he’s a man, a very nice young man). Michael Shannon is also featured as The Runaway’s infamous awful manager, Kim Fowley.
What can I tell you about Dakota Fanning? Two years ago, when she was 13, her character in the terrible “Hound Dog” was raped on screen. Now she’s a rocker having lesbian sex, smoking, drinking, snorting coke off the floor, wearing very hot lingerie because Currie was the precursor of Madonna. There may be some who are shocked by all this.
The fact is, she is more poised and together at 15 than most adults. She wears pearls. At the Q&A after the film, Dakota was so together that she actually took the mike from the as usual freaked-out seeming Kristen Stewart and answered questions.
At the afterparty, sponsored by Microsoft Bing, Dakota did have kind of a meathead personal bodyguard. But she’s only 15. When we spoke, she was courteous and lively as ever. She’s her generation’s Jodie Foster, that’s for sure. Meantime, Stewart ‘ who’s turning 20 in April ‘ is an utter basket case by comparison. She’s a talented actress, but her public presentation suggests a possible hyperventilation at any moment. Someone should work on this with her, and soon.
Meanwhile, Fanning and Stewart are also in the coming “Twilight” movie. They were in the last one together, too. But when Apparition releases “The Runaways” this spring, expect both of them to have legions and legions of new fans.
“The Runaways” works on a lot of levels, and will no doubt be a big hit with little effort. My only quibble is that the films cuts too fast from the demise of The Runaways to Joan Jett’s overnight hit with “I Love Rock and Roll.” The film ends on a minor note rather than with a big flourish. How did Jett come to record her signature hit, and why isn’t that song, in concert, a rockin’ finale? But these are little things. “The Runaways” provided just the energy that’s been missing here in Park City. We needed it.