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« 20:10 Strangely Timed Vacation| Main| Director ≠ Picture.(And Other Theories) »
Thursday
Jan 20 2011

The Fannings: Little Girls Lost

Kurthere fromYour Movie Buddy.

InWmagazine's recently-released “Movie Issue” (which,as Nathaniel observed, was well worth that rare trip to the newsstand), the fashionable editors rather boldly offered not one, but two of their 25 Best Performance slots to the Family Fanning.I doubt I'd have done the same, but there's no denying it: precocious prodigies Dakota and Elle are the most naturally gifted young Hollywood siblings this side ofthe Smith residence.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Cherie, Miss Cleo

In 2010, both sisters appeared in movies as little girls adrift, yet both tackled their roles with an authority that left just enough of their little-girl images behind them.

"Hello, Daddy...hello, Mom..."I personally would have loved to have seen Dakota Fanning get more year-end recognition for her turn as Cherie Currie in Floria Sigismondi'sThe Runaways, a movie that ultimately suffers from band-biopic fatigue, but is often kept afloat by a fiercely feminine POV (the first shot, you may remember, is of a drop of menstrual blood hitting the pavement – promising).Fanning is easily the highlight, putting an immensely watchable spin on the strung-out rocker cliché.Much of the delight of the performance is in that it's an evolutionary, not-a-girl-not-yet-a-woman turning point for the actress, whom we've watched almost since she was in diapers.That and it's a damn good performance.Did youseewhen she burst onto the stage and cranked out her rendition of “Cherry Bomb!?” It's among the more thrilling things I watched on screen this year, and the gravity of that statement isn't lost on me.

Elle gives herself a (well-deserved) handElle's work as young Cleo inSomewhere, another female-helmed picture (this time, of course, by Sofia Coppola), is of a far more subdued variety, but she, too, snags all the attention.Fully aware of how to portray a wholly plausible 11-year-old, yet boasting the unaffected, effortless instincts of a veteran, Elle offerswhat I felt this movie severely lacked.As a girl trying to gracefully deal with deadbeat parents, she scores your sympathy, whereas Stephen Dorff just gets redundant.She brings nuance and nonchalance, whereas Coppola and DP Harris Savides keep pounding you with pretentious and blatant metaphorical shots.Into the gaps of Coppola's thin blueprint of a script, she pours real spirit and humanity, whereas elsewhere in the movie both attributes are in short supply.Like her sister, Elle was born and bred for this business, and seems even ahead of her director in terms of knowing what her movie needs.

I think we can all safely say that lightning has indeed struck twice.

Agree?Disagree?What's your favorite Fanning performance?

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Reader Comments (10)

At first I was angry that Elle was trying to muscle in on Dakota's territory but she acquitted herself well in Somewhere I agree.I wish someone would give Dakota something juicy to do (the Runaways) was a great step.Because vampire villainesses in Twilight?I haven't seen it (so i shouldn't judge) but it just seems so beneath her.

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

I did enjoy Dakota in The Runaways, but to me she was totally upstaged by Kristen Stewart, who (surprise of the century) was actually AMAZING.I couldn't believe I was seeing the same vapid mumbler from Twilight.

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDrew

My favorite perf from a Fanning family member is:

ELLE FANNING'S in SOMEWHERE

but you can say that I don't miss any occasion to write something good about Sofia Coppola's golden lion winner feature.so when you will ask what's our fav perf from a Dorff family member, I will answer Stephen Dorff in SOMEWHERE and so on...

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

Nathaniel -- It definitely is beneath her.I basically chose to ignore it for my purposes here, but "Eclipse" has more metal on its mantle than either of these two movies, and that ain't right.

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKurtis O

Areles enfants Smith prodigiously talented or just cleverly packaged?They do nothing for me—either one—but that just may be personal preference.('Whip My Hair' *is* catchy though.)

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark B.

I kind of really loved Dakota Fanning in Uptown Girls

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDylan

I've always been a fan of Dakota but haven't seen her most recent appearance.However, I wasn't too surprised when I saw Ella in somewhere since I recognized her name and realized she has similar talent to her sister.

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

I loved that scene in The Runaways where Dakota does a lip syncing performnace to a Bowie song.那么完美,我最爱的电影,只是 the general 'I don't give a damn'ness of the whole thing, and when she does the fingers at the end.That said I havent seen Somewhere.

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrooooke

im not sure it's my favorite but Fanning was pretty indelible (and one of the finer qualities) of WAR OF THE WORLDS

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

After "Somewhere", I think that Elle is the better "child actor" of the two, but Dakota has grown into a strong adult actor so she needn't feel threatened.In "Somewhere" there was something to Elle that just felt so natural and UN-precocious.Loved her in that movie.And Dakota was, I thought, fantastic in "The Runaways" (a film that I loved more than most).

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn
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