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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 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 pills and vodka, and jealousies arise. Without adult supervision, where can Joan and Cherie end up? Written by
Greetings again from the darkness. Getting dragged back to the mid-70's can be quite fun, especially when the topic is rock 'n roll. Based on lead singer Cherie Currie's autobiography, this film provides an overview of the formation, sudden fame, and equally sudden dismantling of the first all-girl's rock band, The Runaways.
Joan Jett was the heart of the band, but it took oddball music producer Kim Fowley to put the band together and get the recording deal. Fowley may be the most interesting character in this story. Here he is played with force by the very talented Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road).
Instead, the story focuses on Cherie Currie and Joan Jett, mostly Currie, since it is her book! Dakota Fanning plays Cherie Currie as a confused 15 year old with a messed up family life. The family includes a mom, played by Tatum O'Neal, who announces she is getting married and moving to Indonesia. Currie's dad is a very sick alcoholic, so she is an easy recruit for Fowley and Jett. Jett is played balls-out by Kristen Stewart. Yes, Kristen Stewart from Twilight. Here she shows much more of the talent we saw prior to the Twilight series. She captures the fire and spirit of Joan Jett and leaves little doubt she will pursue her dreams despite all obstacles.
Overall, the script comes up short and provides us little more than headlines and a quick glimpse. Would have expected much more on talented guitarist Lita Ford, who continues to work today. For a quick intro to the story of The Runaways, this one is fine. Just don't expect much depth.
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