The Runaways

The Runaways


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

There's a wham, bam, thank you, man, quality to this music biopic that makes it a pleasurable rock rush that's easy on the eye, even if it fails to do much more than skate the surface of the band of its title.

An all-girl band may not sound like anything new these days but back in the 70s when Joan Jett was first trying to make music that wasn't so peachy-keen, the idea of bad-girl rockers more or less began and ended with Suzi Quatro. That Jett was just 15 when she approached rock manager Kim Fowley to try to get a contract, makes it seem all the more incredible that the group the two of them would go on to create would become a worldwide sensation.

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Here, though, you can leave most of the band in the trailer with the roadies, since writer/director Flora Sigismondi is really only concerned with the central triumvirate of Jett, Shannon and blonde bombshell jailbait Cherie Currie.

We watch as the sleazy but smart Fowley primes their "ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-cherry bombs" to explode and basks in the ensuing mayhem. There is sex of all types, drugs of many varieties and plenty of rock and roll as the band rise to the top and disintegrate - but most of all there is a blistering set of performances at the heart of the film.

Fanning proved she could sing in the critically panned Hounddog and here she gets to show again that her performances are only getting better with age, capturing both the steel and innocence of Currie as her life starts to hit the slippery slope. She is matched step for step by Kristen Stewart, who slips into the Jett role with ease, while towering over the two of them is Michael Shannon, putting in such a finely tuned turn as their dodgy manager that he steals every scene he is in.

Sigismondi's background is in pop videos and it shows. There's a slickness to the action and several scenes have a heady quality, but little attempt is made to really get under the skin of the characters. This is, no doubt, partially due to the source material - Currie's book Neon Angel - which means that she is the only one who is given any sort of fleshed out life or driving forces outside of the band. Still, if Sigismondi isn't interested in psychology, she is big on mood and she captures the trashy feel of life on the road perfectly and celebrates a sense of Seventies sexual liberation and its flipside without turning her central characters into martyrs.

Reviewed on: 10 Sep 2010
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Rock biopic.
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Director: Floria Sigismondi

Writer: Floria Sigismondi

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Scout Taylor-Compton, Michael Shannon, Alia Shawkat, Tatum O'Neal

Year: 2010

Runtime: 107 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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