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
Robert Romanus, who plays the guitar teacher who tries to get Joan to play "On Top of Old Smoky", thirty years earlier had also co-starred with the real Cherie Currie in her movie debut, Foxes (1980). See more »
In Japan they show an American limo driving on the right side of the road. In Japan, they drive on the left side of the road. See more »
Engrossing tale of innocence lost ... with great music!
Just caught a special screening of The Runaways last night at the Laemmle on Sunset, and it more than exceeded expectations. The leads (Kristen Stewart, Michael Shannon and Dakota Fanning) do an admirable job playing the sullen budding rock star, whacked-out manager and reluctant front girl. At first, it looked as though Stewart was going to fall back on her woe-is-me (woe-is-us who have to suffer through it) Bella character in Twilight, but her performance as Joan Jett soon showed a shyness and vulnerability that made the role three dimensional and overall enjoyable. Shannon gives a wonderful turn as Kim Fowley, The Runaways' too-brilliant-for-his-own-good manager and has some of the best lines in the movie (my friend and I were giddy every time he opened his mouth). But the real star here is Fanning as the innocent Cherie Curie, who didn't ask to be a star but was thrust into the spotlight nevertheless. Watching her downward spiral from innocent young woman (the film opens with her getting her first period) to trying to buy a jug of vodka for breakfast is where this movie soars above others of its ilk. With her big baby blues (wow, those eyes), Fanning portrays innocence lost more effectively than any other actress I can remember. She should be considered for many awards for her performance. Did I mention those eyes?
All in all, The Runaways is a fantastic movie. The direction, though "arty" at times, fits in well with the rock 'n' roll themes. The script is nearly pitch perfect without being preachy or excessive. The performances great. The soundtrack genius (from Bowie to The Stooges to The Sex Pistols - and even a few Runaways songs). But what really adds to the authenticity of the 70's period piece are the costumes and set design, which transport the audience back into a time when women rockers were practically unheard of. Some of the fashion (where did they find all those platform heels?) even takes on a life of its own. Looking forward to watching this little gem again.
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