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Mary Kay Place
In 1975, San Fernando Valley teen Joan Larkin reinvents herself as Joan Jett, a guitarist who wants to form an all-girl punk band. She pitches the idea to a sleazy manager, Kim Fowley, who pairs her with a drummer and then searches for a face: he finds Cherie Currie, at age 15, the perfect jailbait image for his purpose; by luck, she can sing. Two others round out the band, The Runaways. Fowley books a tour, signs them to Mercury Records, and packs them off to crowds in Japan. Seeds of conflict sprout early: Fowley puts Cherie front and center in the publicity, she's soon strung out on drugs and vodka, and jealousies arise. Without adult supervision, where can Joan and Cherie end up? Written by
In the scene where Joan Jett is being interviewed by Rodney Bingenheimer on the radio, Kristen Stewart is wearing a purple jacket similar to the one Jett wore on the cover of her 1981 album 'I Love Rock 'n Roll'. See more »
When we see Cherie Currie drop the phonograph needle on a vinyl record of David Bowie's 1973 album Aladdin Sane, the RCA label is black with the company name printed in block letters. Nipper, the dog listening to "His Master's Voice," is pictured on the side. This version of the record label was not introduced until 1977, a year after The Runaways released their first album, and, therefore, would not have been on the album Currie was listening to prior to joining the band. The RCA label would have been either orange or gold with the company name printed in the block letters they introduced in 1968 and without Nipper who disappeared from the label at that time, not to return until 1977. See more »
I wish I could play. I'd be in a band with you.
Yeah, well you can't.
I hear Cherie's trying the acting thing. You don't need her. You should go solo. Like Bowie. Bowie's just Bowie, he doesn't need any band.
They were my songs. I wrote them. She just sang them.
Yeah, but people always remember the singer.
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I've been a Runaways fan since 1976, so I had been anticipating this film for a long time. Having read Cherie Currie's book, Neon Angel, on which the film is very loosely based, I was pretty familiar with the broad outlines of the story. As with any film adaptation of a book, I knew they would leave some things out and streamline other things, and I also suspected the film wouldn't be as dark as the book, which turned out to be true.
What the film really nailed was the relationship between the Runaways and their sleazy manager/producer Kim Fowley. Michael Shannon does a fabulous job playing this over-the-top character. His expletive-filled rants are simultaneously hilarious and cringe-worthy.
The stars, Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning, are both excellent as Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, respectively. Stewart displays Jett's consuming passion for rock and roll and her desire to work hard to be a star. Fanning does a very good job balancing Currie's conflicting desires (to be a rock star and be with her family). It's no secret that the film doesn't spend much time with the other three members of the band. I have no problem with that, since Jett and Currie are, for me, the most interesting and most talented members.
The film does a great job showing the band performing. Stewart and Fanning clearly worked hard to be believable as rockers, and it paid off. You see the progression of both characters from neophytes to seasoned performers, and it works. Another aspect is the struggle by the Runaways to be taken seriously. There were very few hard-rocking ladies in 1976, so they faced a lot of skepticism. The film shows this very well.
The music is very good. The new versions of Runaways songs are good, although Fanning sounds nothing like Currie. The period songs are a nice selection, from David Bowie to Gary Glitter to the Stooges. The filmmakers nailed the look of the period as well. The clothes, hair, furniture, etc., are just right.
Overall, this is an excellent film. I highly recommend it.
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