Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Runaways

Every great rock band always has a charismatic lead singer and guitarist to play off each other. The Runaways weren't a great band but they had plenty of charisma. They were trendsetters and broke the barrier for women in rock. This is the story of the band and in particular, the relationship between Joan Jett and Cheri Currie. The film is produced by Joan Jett and based on a memoir by Ms. Currie so one has to assume most of what we see on screen is fairly accurate.

The director, Floria Sigismondi, captures the energy and sleaze of 1975 Los Angeles with a keen ear and eye for the rock scene of that era. Kristen Stewart makes a memorable Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning gives her most adult performance yet (ironic as she plays a 15 year old) as Cheri Currie. Michael Shannon shows chameleon like abilities portraying record producer, Kim Fowley, a role unlike anything he's done to date.

The story concentrates on the volatile relationship between Ms. Jett and Ms. Currie. Much is being made about an on screen kiss but it makes sense as Ms. Jett's love for Ms. Currie is obvious from their first meeting. What eventually tears them apart is Ms. Currie's need for a life outside of the band unlike Ms. Jett, who's life is the band. It's fascinating to watch the rise and fall of The Runaways especially if you lived through that time period. For Today's youth, it's a cautionary tale of too much too soon.

The focus on Jett and Currie makes sense as they were the face and sound of the band but I would have liked to know more about the other three members of the band. In particular, Lita Ford, who gets no back story and yet went on to her own solo popularity years later. Even in the post script, there is no mention of Ms. Ford, drummer Sandy West or the bassist know simply as Robin.

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