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Sunday, 12 September 2010

The Runaways

The problem with telling a true story is, whose side do you take? In fiction you can just have all the cool stuff happen to your lead: in real life things get a bit tricky. Unfortunately in The Runaways, director Floria Sigismondi’s adaptation of Cherie Curry’s book about her life as the lead singer of, you guessed it, The Runaways (of “Cherry Bomb” fame), pretty much all the cool stuff involves people other than Cherie.

Sure, the teenage Cherie (Dakota Fanning) has some vague dreams of becoming some kind of rock star, but next to the driven passion of Joan Jett (Twilight’s Kristen Stewart) you either go hard or go home. Meanwhile their flamboyant, kinda creepy, quasi-abusive svengali manager Kim Fowley (an excellent performance from Michael Shannon) deserves at least two movies all by himself as he puts the girls together, put through through hell (or as he calls it, “training”), and then unleashes them on the world as “jail-f**king-bait”.

So this look at early 70’s proto-punk gets a bit frustrating after a while as the focus keeps drifting back to the purposefully trashy but fairly vapid Cherie when both Jett and Fowley are the ones with drive and passion. It’s their story (as shown by their post-Runaway’s successes) Cherie just lives in it, and while there’s a few fun moments and enjoyably sleazy scenes here, the film’s hollow core gets the better of it well before the end credits.

Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #477)

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