The Runaways
dir-scr Floria Sigismondi
prd Art Linson, John Linson, William Pohlad
with Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Michael Shannon, Stella Maeve, Scout Taylor-Compton, Alia Shawkat, Riley Keough, Johnny Lewis, Tatum O'Neal, Brett Cullen, Hannah Marks, Jill Andre
release US 19.Mar.10, UK 10.Sep.10
10/US 1h47
The Runaways
I love rock 'n' roll: Bell and Fanning

sw sw sw
edinburgh film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Runaways A fascinating exploration of the effects of fame on young people, this true story is sharply directed and acted. It's also great to see a film about girl power that's this realistic and resonant. And packed with such great songs.

At only 15, Cherie Currie (Fanning) is overwhelmed when Joan Jett (Stewart) asks her to front her band The Runaways. With the encouragement of music promoter Kim Fowley (Shannon), Cherie becomes an iconic presence on stage and off, propelling the group into previously uncharted territory as female rockers. And while Joan and the other bandmates (Maeve, Taylor-Compton and Shawkat) take the lifestyle in their stride, Cherie is continually drawn back to her big sister (Keough) and absent parents (O'Neal and Cullen).

Since this film is based on Cherie's memoir, it takes her perspective from start to finish, which seems a little off-centred when it's Joan's story that we're more interested in. This isn't to say that Cherie's narrative is any less worthy of a film (it definitely is), but it leaves the movie feeling off-balance. That said, Fanning gives a startlingly full-bodied performance full of fiery bluster and an internal little-girl-lost quality that makes us reach out to her as she's consumed by the sex-and-drugs lifestyle.

Stewart is also terrific as the quintessential rock 'n' roll chick, with a steely edge that the Twilight movies never even hint at. And Shannon very nearly grabs the film right from under the actresses' feet with a colourful turn as a man who is both likeable and terrifying. Although in many ways it's the music itself that's the star; the girls' reverence for Suzi Quatro and Ziggy Stardust oozes from their pores along with their own raw voice.

Even more interesting film's depiction of rampant sexism in the industry, both overt ("girls can't be rockers") and more sinister. But through raw passion, Joan, Cherie and their band punched through the barriers. And Sigismondi tells the story with inventive camerawork, attention to telling detail and skilfully staged musical sequences. It may not be the freshest approach to the usual descent-into-addiction biopic, and it may even centre the wrong character, but it's a superior look at a pivotal time in music history.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality, drugs 18.Jun.10 eiff

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© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall