The Runaways (R16)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner21/06/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 107 mins

Enjoyable, stylishly directed rock biopic with terrific performances from Fanning, Stewart and Shannon, though the fact that it's adapted from Currie's book means that only Cherie's story is explored in any depth.

What's it all about?
Directed by photographer Floria Sigismondi and adapted from the book by Cherie Currie, The Runaways opens in 1975 when Bowie-obsessed 15-year-old Cherie (Dakota Fanning) is introduced to guitarist Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) by impresario Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon). Despite feeling guilty about leaving her older sister Marie (Riley Keough – Elvis's granddaughter) to look after their alcoholic father (Brett Cullen), Cherie eagerly joins the band and is soon embarking on a gruelling schedule of tours and indulging in the usual sex, drugs and rock'n'roll shenanigans with a little experimental lesbianism thrown in.

The Good
Dakota Fanning is terrific as Cherie Currie – this is essentially her movie and she delivers an emotionally engaging performance that captures both the aggressive rock chick image and the grown-up-too-soon teenager inside. Her scenes with Keough are particularly good; their relationship is as central to the film as Cherie's relationship with Joan.

Stewart is equally good, capturing Jett's look, spirit and attitude, even if the character is frustratingly under-explored by the script. There's also strong support from Keough and Stella Maeve (as drummer and band co-founder Sandy West) but the film is neatly stolen by the always-excellent Michael Shannon, who gets all the best lines and several amusingly off-the-wall moments, such as having a business call with Joan while having sex.

The Great
Sigismondi has the expected photographer's eye for an arresting image (such as Joan mentally composing songs in a milky-white bath) and her direction is suitably stylish throughout. Similarly, the film ticks all the expected biopic boxes (drugs, arguments, breakdowns, lesbianism) and the concert scenes are well handled, particularly an early heckler-heavy gig and the central set-piece performance of Cherry Bomb.

The main problem is that this is essentially The Runaways: The Cherie Currie Story, meaning that the rest of the band are frustratingly side-lined (poor Alia Shawkat gets just one line, off-camera) and the film ends when Cherie leaves the band, when Jett's story is just as interesting.

Worth seeing?
Despite a few wobbles, The Runaways is a stylish and enjoyable rock biopic with terrific performances from Fanning, Stewart and Shannon. Recommended.

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The Runaways (R16)
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Content updated: 17/02/2020 11:39

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