THE RUNAWAYS

2010; adapted and directed by Floria Sigismondi; 106 mins

Much as I try not to give a fuck about accuracy in drama, it is creepy how much most of the main actors in this film look like their real-life counterparts! Nevertheless, accuracy is the first thing that must be addressed because both Cherie Currie and Joan Jett, whilst giving the film their blessing, have said that this is not the most rigorously truthful depiction of their story. However, they did admit that the film gives a real feel for what it was like for very young girls, at that time, navigating the world of rock and they’re completely right. So whilst the film sometimes jumps through the timeline like the Duracell Bunny on speed and many subjects are touched on but not explored, this aspect really works, particularly through Dakota Fanning‘s portrayal of Currie.

Beginning with Currie and Jett (Kristen Stewart) as disaffected teens, enter larger-than-life rock twat, Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), who thrusts them together along with Lita Ford, Sandy West and Robin (a composite character) to form The Runaways. The narrative then charts the rise and fall of the band, the sex, the drugs, the mucking about, the friendships and the break-ups.

The narrative is very familiar but the storytelling, at times, reminds you of ‘Spiders on Drugs‘, an incomplete web with the construction darting all over the place. What writer/director Floria Sigismondi does do though is to hone in on the characters as just normal girls being rock stars and doing that in a way that doesn’t feel like a whining, “poor-little-incredibly-rich-me” sob story. The depiction of drug-taking is a key element too because whereas most rock biopics would show you how the drugs fucked them up, this film seems to say that the people around the girls fucked them up first and the drugs were more of a double-edged sword. So, yes, you have Currie snorting crushed pills off the floor but you also have an oddly tender little scene in a plane toilet with Currie and Jett demolishing a load of coke before going through customs.

So, there are a lot of things wrong with it but the likeability of the film ploughs through all that on the strength of it’s cast and it’s relentless love of the characters at the heart of it all. It being based on Currie’s memoirs, the film is nominally about her and aside from Fowley and Jett, we don’t get to know much about the rest of the band (despite the title). But Sigismondi never lets us lose sight of how young Currie and the band were and that makes the events swirling around her, all that more messed up. Even as the post-Runaways drug casualty, she looks like a little girl. The film’s real success, is that it’s empathetic rather than worthy or sensationalist.

PLUS, THE SOUNDTRACK’S REALLY GREAT! Of course it is! It’s my kinda music but of all the bands featured, I’d never listened to The Runaways! You bet your arse I have now!

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