The Runaways - Movie Review Print E-mail
Written by Jason Daniel Baker   
Sunday, 28 March 2010 06:00

runawaysposterThe Runaways (2010) Starring Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Michael Shannon, Scout Taylor-Compton, Stella Maeve, Alia Shawkat, Brett Cullen, Riley Keough, Tatum O'Neal, Keir O'Donnell, Nick Eversman, Lisa Long.

 

Directed by Floria Sigismondi.

 

Running time: 109 minutes

 

Rating: R (Coarse language, drug use and sexual content)

 

"We have chosen YOU to make rock n' roll history!"

 

Eccentric and largely unsuccessful rock impresario Kim Fowley (Shannon) discovered precocious rock goddess Joan Jett (Stewart) and elected to help her with her vision of creating an all-teen girl rock band in late 1975 in Los Angeles. He'd had a similar idea but had never been able to get it off the ground.

 

After a series of different versions of the group that would be called The Runaways a line-up of regulars like Cherie Currie (Fanning) and Lita Ford (Taylor-Compton) formed.

 

The idea for an all-teen girl rock band proved to be an excellent one from a marketing standpoint. From a musical standpoint it turned out to be an even better one and needless to say, the soundtrack for this movie rocks because The Runaways did.

 

With the generous help of legendary DJ and "man on the L.A. Scene" Rodney Bingenheimer (O'Donnell) the band embarked on a journey of self-discovery unlike those of most young women.

 

There were also the allegations of sexual abuse and experimentation beyond the musical kind. It included international rock super-stardom, brief lesbianism between Curie and Jett and a kind of candy store shopping spree of hard drugs that cutting musicians of the time were plagued by.

 

The more shocking scenes show former child-star Fanning as Currie masturbating in the shower to a poster of Farrah Fawcett (RIP) and Stewart as Jett peeing on a guitar. Canadian director Floria Sigismondi pulled no punches in being truthful to the story; the result is shocking and disturbing and, by most accounts, painfully accurate.

 

If you are at all stunned at seeing child star Dakota Fanning preening in heavy make-up andthe_runaways_teaser_poster lingerie, presented in a blatantly sexual way, remember she is the same age as the character she plays in this film. Cherie Currie lived this reality when she wasn't old enough to vote.

 

While some have suggested Fowley had lecherous reasons for aligning himself with young rhythm guitarist Jett and her drummer Sandy West (Maeve) it should be noted that Fowley was active in the music industry for well over fifteen years before he met Jett and by then knew the golden rule that you "go with the talent" if you want to get somewhere.

 

Here we see producer/manager Fowley portrayed similarly to the screen interpretations of pimps who recruit young teen girls and he, portrayed with a desperate, manic persona by Shannon, undeniably utilizes emotional blackmail and abuse in managing the band. Michael Shannon, as the middle-aged wannabe hipster, gives an Oscar worthy turn and he should at least be nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

 

For rock fans there should be no other movie right now inspite of its disappointing standing at the North American box-office. This gritty, unflinching look at the odyssey of one of the genre's great bands on its surreal way up and then on the dark path downward is at very least the best rock bio pic since 'The Doors' (1991). Do not miss it!

 

Notes: The screenplay was adapted from the book 'Neon Angels' by Cherie Currie, her account of her experiences in the band.