Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning star in this music fuelled story of the ground breaking, all girl, teenage rock band of the 1970s: The Runaways. The film follows two friends, Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, as they rise from rebellious Southern California kids to rock stars of the now legendary group that paved the way for future generations of girl bands. Joan and Cherie fall under the Svengali like influence of rock impresario Kim Fowley, who turns the group into an outrageous success and a family of misfits. With its tough chick image and raw talent, the band quickly earns a name for itself and so do its two leads: Joan is the band’s pure rock’ n’ roll heart, while Cherie, with her Bowie Bardot looks, is the sex kitten.
The Runaways is an interesting look at the origins of the all girl rock band in the mid 1970’s. Director Floria Sigismondi takes her time in putting things together early in the film as she explores where both Joan Jett and Cherie Currie are in their lives before things fall into place for The Runaways to start performing. Sigismondi has done a nice job of capturing the feel of the era throughout the film with attention to details on all of the character costumes and film settings.
For any film set in the world of music the soundtrack is critical and The Runaways soundtrack is effective at drawing the audience into the feel of the band and its story as the members embrace a hard living rock’n’roll life style.
After building up some momentum with the band members falling into place the film moves along at a nice pace mostly focusing on the story of Joan Jett and Cherie Currie. Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning both deliver good performances in their roles as does Michael Shannon as record producer Kim Fowley who plays a pivotal part in putting the group together.
The film mostly centres on these three core characters however and generally glosses over the remaining members of the band not really fleshing out their own stories as the band rises and falls. The audience is given few background details on how things move along for the band so successfully and so quickly, the film asks you to take quite a lot for granted as it dedicates most of the screen time to the more personal challenges of the lead characters.
Things slow down somewhat and fall a little flat before moving towards the conclusion and wrap up of what becomes of the main characters depicted in the film.
There is something of a tragic sense of familiarity to this story like others where we explore the lives of talented people who quickly gain popularity and stardom without much experience or guidance. Often this results in negative consequences however those with an interest in this particular tale will no doubt be attentive from beginning to end.
Personally I’ve always found origin tales of talented people to be intriguing, something about the influences that shape them and how things come together to produce their art whatever form it takes is interesting to me and The Runaways is no different. This film covers a topic I largely know very little about but remains interesting to watch. This is reflective of the effort and care that has gone into it.
I give this film 3 out of 5 stars and it is released in Australia on July 15.