DVD Review: the Runaways

The Runaways DVD Review Toronto Music Scene By: Sheena Lyonnais
August 18, 2010
TTTT (out of 5)

The Runaways
is another classic biopic of a rock’n’roll story gone wrong – the tale of an ambitious, trail-blazing individual that is eventually ruined by a world of addiction and loss.  Featuring the organically gifted Dakota Fanning as blonde bombshell Cherie Currie and the vampire lover-turned-rocker Kristen Stewart as the innovative Joan Jett, the Runaways tells the story the first all girl rock band to really stir up the world.  Signed at only 15, the girls were seemingly forced into a world of drugs and alcohol, prompting the highly addicted Currie to ultimately quit the band. 

Fanning does an incredible job transitioning from a seemingly innocent young girl into the sex kitten that was Currie in 1975.  She is particularly brilliant in her most troubled and seductive scenes, showcasing her dynamic as a developing young actress.  Stewart shines in the live scenes as she believable plays the part of the wild Jett, and while she struggles in a few scenes, she proves herself as someone not afraid to step outside of her safety zone and try something new and dangerous, a trait that reminds people she’s been doing this for a while and ultimately one that will help throughout her career. 

Michael Shannon had the difficult task of playing eccentric and infamous producer Kim Fowley and he played it perfectly.  His performance became even more inspiring after a young man at BMV showed me a recent video of Fowley from this year’s SXSW, telling stories and rambling in a gas station somewhere in Texas.  Shannon’s ability to capture the long-winded, twitchy and irrational Fowley is inspirational and magnetic, a role no other could have encapsulated to this magnitude.

Plot-wise, several key details were left out of the movie, including a quintessential moment in Currie’s life – the rape that prompted her to chop her hair.  However, considering the movie was filmed in a mere six weeks as well as the complexity of the story, this is forgivable.  It doesn’t have the emotional affect of most music biographies, but this can obviously be attributed to the fact Currie and Jett are still out their making their respective differences.

The bonus features include commentary from Stewart and Fanning as they compare the closeness of their friendship to that of Jett and Currie, as well as their struggles and triumphs in their roles.  Having worked together in the Twilight series, their authentic relationship bleeds into their performance.  Both Currie and Jett advocate for Stewart and Fanning, impressed and inspired by their representations.  Director Floria Sigismondi does a brilliant job telling both Currie’s story and Jett’s back-story. It’s an inspiring and influential story about a time in rock’n’roll history that was relentless and new – a time when rock’n’roll really mattered.

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