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Kristen Stewart a no-show at Toronto premiere of The Runaways

In case there was ever any doubt, Joan Jett—music’s original riot grrrl—really doesn’t give a damn about her bad reputation. And after seeing photos from the various American premieres of The Runaways, the new film about Jett’s first group, the game-changing band of the title, we could be forgiven for hoping for a similarly rock-and-roll spirit at the film’s Toronto premiere last night. It’s not like we were actually expecting to see the lady-loving trailblazer accompanied by her slouchy onscreen counterpart, Kristen Stewart, or the holy-Toledo-she’s-not-as-angelic-as-she-looks Dakota Fanning, who plays Miss Cherry Bomb herself, lead singer Cherie Currie, but one can dream. After all, the writer-director Floria Sigismondi got her start working on music videos here in Toronto, which led to gigs with The Cure, Christina Aguilera, the White Stripes and David Bowie, and finally to her feature film debut starring two of pretty young Hollywood’s prettiest, youngest things.

Granted, the launch was at the perfectly lovely but decidedly edge-repellent Isabel Bader Theatre, which didn’t help with street cred. (It’s hard to get down with your crazy self in a lecture hall.) Though to be fair, Sigismondi did her best—and it was impressive—to fire things up in a bogglingly skin-tight, long-sleeved mini.

As for her film, things start off swimmingly with a close-up of blood splattering onto hot Hollywood asphalt, the source of which becomes obvious as the camera pans up to 15-year-old Cherie Currie’s stained inner thighs. Screw politeness—this is directed by the woman behind Marilyn Manson’s 1996 “Beautiful People” video, y’all. But after a fist-pumping scene in which Jett dumps a mountain of loose change onto a shopkeeper’s counter and demands to be punked out in leather before sprinting down the street to get high, and another in which high schooler Currie performs an ode to Bowie that will go down as the best talent show contribution ever, The Runaways becomes a straightforward, ultimately unsurprising biopic about music’s most influential all-girl rock band. Not a bad one, exactly, but not a badass one, either.

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