Image Credit: Everett CollectionA number of readers have ripped me for writing an entire review of The Runaways in which I somehow failed to include a single word about Dakota Fanning’s performance. You’re right, point taken, I should have. All right, here goes: She was perfectly okay. Actually, when I realized that I’d written the review that way, I just figured that I’d let my lack of comment on Fanning’s performance stand as an implicit statement that there wasn’t all that much to say about it. She’s quite the critics’ darling these days — always has been, really — but to me, Dakota Fanning, as she’s grown up, has turned into a slightly odd actress, luminous and emotionally delicate but also passive and a bit spaced. She’s gifted, but as a presence she’s not all there.
In The Runaways, she plays Cherie Currie as a put-upon nice girl who worships David Bowie (and gets pelted with wads of paper at school for it!), then learns how to snarl and cock her body on stage like a real punk she-devil. Yet somehow, through all the drugs and girl fights and bleary, sleepless tour dates and leering of the boys in the audience and abuse piled upon her by the group’s domineering packager-producer-manager-Svengali-tormenter, Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), Cherie manages to retain the wispy essence of her wayward-ingenue innocence. Fanning has one good scene near the end where Cherie is blasted on drugs and tries, without any luck, to purchase a bottle of liquor; her slovenly, impotent fury at the sales people is startling. But up until then, Fanning’s competent, rather wan acting fits all too neatly into the film’s pious, slightly sanitized vision of Cherie Currie as a sweetly alienated, emotionally neglected Los Angeles girl who got put through a pop-culture meat grinder.
Yes, that’s kind of what happened, but if we really want to be progressive (and truthful) about it, let’s also give the members of the Runaways credit for being the young women they chose to be, even if they were just babe-in-the-urban-woods teenagers. From all the sources I’ve encountered (including the memoir on which the movie is based), the real Cherie Currie was, and still is, a pistol, a girl who got herself into heaps of trouble because she eagerly sought it out. READ FULL STORY