Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
In 1975 Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) was a sixteen-year-old electric guitarist ready to make rock history, and fifteen year old Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) wanted to be there with her. The Runaways, a visually stylish film about the iconic group by the same name captures the grit of the seventies rock scene and the hunger of Joan to make it in the “world of men.”
Canadian director Floria Sigismondi (directed music videos for The White Stripes, Christina Aguilera, Muse, Marilyn Manson, and David Bowie) captures the edgy world of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll with help from Michael Shannon who brilliantly portrays the eccentric promoter and manager, Kim Fowley. Some of the best scenes in the film are where he prepares the girls using colourful language and overblown theatrical gestures for the stardom he believes is their inevitable future. The film takes off when Joan approaches Kim in front of a nightclub and says she’s looking to form an all-girls band. Once Cherie auditions for lead vocals and the band comes together they evolve from teen rock-star wannabes practicing in a trailer in California to world tours where they hold their own as bonafide rock starlets with screaming fans, sold out shows and TV specials. Based on Cherie’s book Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway it’s not surprising that much of the film’s attention is focused on Cherie, but that said, we’re exposed to enough of Joan that we feel her devastation when typical rock drama threatens to end her career.
Both Kristen and Dakota stretch their ability and provide provocative and mature performances that help take us back to the real struggles of the ground-breaking teengirl band with larger-than-life characters that battled criticism, non-believers, dysfunctional homes, fame, drugs, and discovery of their sexuality.
The DVD provides extras that include audio commentary by Joan Jett, Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. Plugged in: Making the Film is a nice featurette where Cherie states that the “sky was the limit,” but also goes on to say that it was a time in music history where “women were not accepted in Rock’n’Roll.” We also learn that Kristen spent ours learning the guitar pieces for all the songs she performs in the movie to add authenticity to her role. Don’t worry, there’s still lots of trivia worth watching.
Definitely a good addition to any DVD library.
Rating: 14A – Sexual Content and Substance Abuse