For the most part Floria Sigismondi‘s The Runaways (Apparition, 3.19) is an absorbing, highly charged, better-than-average ’70s rock saga. I’m giving it a solid B. Maybe a B-minus. The reasons for the voltage are Kristen Stewart‘s scrappy performance as Joan Jett, the Runaways co-founder who went on to become a solo rock legend in the ’80s, and Michael Shannon‘s as L.A. rock impresario Kim Fowley. And the music, of course.

The Runaways costars Dakota Fanning (who plays Cherie Curie) and Kristen Stewart (who plays Joan Jett) at Eccles lecturn following this evening’s screening of Floria Sigismondi’s above-average ’70s rock saga,

Former Runaways stars Joan Jett, Cherie Curie on stage during post-screening q & a.

As long as the film is focused on Stewart and Shannon and the generally pungent ’70s atmosphere, it radiates badass attitude and seems authentically plugged in to the spirit of ’70s rebel rock.

Unfortunately, Sigismondi’s script is primarily based on Currie’s autobiography, Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story, which tells of her background plus her drug and alcohol problem that arose from her success with the Runaways.

This means that in too many portions we’re stuck watching Curie’s fairly boring story, since no rock-industry cliche is more mind-numbing than the one about a famous rock star burning out on drugs. Which also means we’re stuck with Dakota Fanning , who gives an opaque, space-case performance as Curie — blankness personified. That’s my opinion, at least. Some journalist pallies in the Eccles lobby were differing with me after the film, but that’s what makes a ballgame.

Update: I was recalling this morning how Kim Fowley, Joan Jett and Cherie Currie bitch about each other in George Hickenlooper‘s Rodney Bingenheimer documentary The Mayor of Sunset Strip.