IN THEATERS FRIDAY 3/19
US Rating: *** 1/2
Girl power gets a rock beat in this fact-based drama about the birth, rise and swift fall of the 1970s all-female group The Runaways. With Kristen Stewart playing androgynous tough girl Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning as blonde teen bombshell Cherie Currie, the biopic charts their fight for recognition in the rough music world. Fanning has the flashier part as a crumbly cookie from a broken suburban home who desperately seeks stardom to compensate for abandonment issues -- then can't deal with the fame and the drugs that come with it.
While Stewart's Twilight fans may wonder why she isn't front and center, she clearly is the movie's spine, its agile strength. As an actress, Stewart is already strong enough to be generous with her costars. (Speaking of, watch for a same-sex kiss between the leads!) Filmed with a 1970s punk edginess by music-video director Floria Sigismondi, the movie recalls a time when a schoolteacher, refusing to give Jett a lesson she wanted, tells her, "Girls don't play electric guitar." While some things have changed, this is an anthem to those young women who wouldn't take no for an answer.
-- THELMA ADAMS