The Runaways Reviews
The opening scene. A drop of menstrual blood hits the pavement. Itīs not necessary much more to understand that itīs a movie about girls. With a sort of disappointment, I already knew what to and what to not expect, an apprehension confirmed right in the next scenes, dialogues between the sisters. Itīs not only a film from a girlīs point of view, but it is also like any other music biography weīve already seen. Something like: turn up the sound and (try to) enjoy it.
The film tells the story of the beginning of the band, its success and fall, but itīs not exactly a film about The Runaways. It focus on Cherie Currie and Joan Jett, letting Lita Ford, Jackie Fox and Sandy West "in the backstage", being West the only one who has more scenes with them. With the exception of Cherie Bomb and I Love Rock NīRoll, we donīt see a daily band routine, the artistic process of writing and arranging songs, what would be more interesting than the pattern "sex, drugs and rock nīroll". Yes, itīs the year of 1975, they are the first all-girl rock band, but all this we already know.
Itīs difficult to conceive that so young girls had so much freedom to do whatever they had in mind when we look to Dakota Fanning, still too "little" girl to convince us that she is the fox we've been waiting for. However, the times are others. If the real Runaways looked like what today would be twenty something, Fanning and Stewart fits perfectly into those seventeen years old.
Cherie Currie was much wilder for sure (what can be perceived in her voice) but Fanning makes a great job. Like Iīve read somewhere , she is making the transition from child actor to a grown up actress in a strong way.
Speaking about looks, if you, like me, didnīt really know The Runaways, but in the other hand knew The L Word, Kristen Stewart will look so much like Shane that will be hard to properly enjoy or take in consideration her portrait of Joan Jett. Too bad! After watching some old videos of The Runaways on youtube, I can say she is very good as Jett. Watching their live in Japan, in 1977, itīs incredible how Scout Taylor-Compto is very alike to Lita Ford.
I was enthralled by both female leads especially Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie. She was a (more) feminine David Bowie and focus of the contrived jailbait image. No doubt, Cherry Bomb was written for her! Kristen Stewart was not Bella Swan, thank God, although she still managed to mope somewhat. They're successful in realistically portraying the excesses of the rock and roll lifestyle and the central conflict of girls who want to rock vs. jailbait sleaze. Joan Jett would be proud.
If you're not into this genre, The Runaways will not change your mind. Though women in musical films are rarely seen, their band was obviously selected for its very familiar trajectory; there's an interesting plot thread about the sexualization of Currie as a point of dissent within the band, but that's really where the differences end. If you're willing to look past narrative and view it more as a cinematic spectacle, it's much more effective, a very well-crafted film with a considerable eye for visual flair. Floria Sigismondi deserves better, frankly.
This film's weakness is the script. Why tell the story of The Runaways? What is it about this band that should compel our interest? The film can't retreat to the concept that The Runaways was the first all-female band because much of the film is spent convincing these vixens that they should be male or male fantasies. What could be compelling about a female band that made its fame kow-towing to androcentric culture? This criticism is even more poignant when we take into account the fact that our heroes follow the same trajectory as many of their male counterparts, making this the feminine version of an old story.
Overall, though Fanning's performance is quite fun to watch - almost like what it must have been like to first see Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver - the film's storyline and subject needs an angle, something new to add to the conversation.
Primarily focusing on the Joan Jett/Cherie Currie experience, the film gives Kristen Stewart, as Jett, an outlet for her lip gnashing, but it's Twilight cohort Dakota Fanning (as Currie) who's the star; stalking and preening and fragmenting, she's like a teenage Marlene Dietrich in platforms.
Nate's Grade: C
The casting and performances are excellent. It bugs me that Jackie Fox (or any of the other real life bassists) were passed over in front of a generic composite named Robin Robins, but other than that, the casti is spot on. I wish mroe focus would have been put on Lita Ford, but Scout Taylor-Compton still does a really good job given the limitations. Stella aeve is really good as Sandy West, but this movie belongs to Stewart and Fanning through and through. They nail the looks, attitudes, and mannerisms, and (esecially in Stewart's case) you forget that you're watching an actress. Michael Shannon is also superb as the conventional svengali-type mentor who guides (and exploits) the band,
Another thing that gets captured perfectly is the setting at the atmosphere. This fillm nails the clothes, styles, and really brings the 1970s to life. The music is wonderful too. Props for having the girls actually leran and perform the music, and for using my favorite Stooges song ("gimme Danger") during one of the best scenes of the film (when Kim and Joan meet and recruit Cherie).
This isn't without it's faults, but it's still pretty damn solid, and very entertaining. This is definitely worth a watch.
A coming-of-age biopic about '70s teenage band The Runaways.
Scattershot biopic about rock and roll female band The Runaways focusing on the lead singer Cherie Currie and guitarist Joan Jett (admittedly I was skeptical when I heard the casting yet Fanning and Stewart, respectively, acquit themselves nicely) during the anything goes '70s with Svengali manager Kim Fowley (Shannon having a field day) as the full-of-himself (and something else) rock enthusiast seeing the future in this 'jail bait' band. While the aforementioned talent do a bang up job inhibiting their intimidating icon roles (especially Stewart with plenty of Body English ?the shoulder-shrumped slouch is dead-on!), the film itself short-changes the other girls (i.e. Lita Ford, hell-o!) and is rather a by-the-numbers-melodrama. Yet the music rocks so that's something that first time director and screenwriter Floria Sigismondi (who adapted Currie's autobiography "Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story") does manage to capture the authentic feel of the era (grainy 16 mm footage helps too!) and the heart of rock and roll in general.
As I said with the film Remember Me, it is becoming obvious that the actors in the Twilight films aren't being given much to work with. Kirsten Stewart delivers what is probably her best role to date as Joan Jett, light years away from the vampire garbage she'll be typecast for in later years. The cool thing about The Runaways is that it feels like your looking at pictures from the 1970's as the film progresses. The scenes are lit so that they have that dinginess; that, dare I say, malaise that made the '70's a garbage heap at times. Director Floria Sigismondi delivers a time capsule for us to marvel at, when jail bait was an openly accepted treat and girls weren't supposed to be rockers, they were supposed to screw the rockers. This film is in no way a masterpiece, but it's riveting and delivers yet another story from the rock n' roll graveyard.