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Director: Floria Sigismondi
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Michael Shannon, Riley Keough, Scout Taylor Compton, Stella Maeve, Alia Shawkat
RunTime: 1 hr 49 mins
Released By: Shaw
M18 (Drug Scenes And Coarse Language)
Official Website: http://runawaysmovie.com

Opening Day: 6 May 2010


Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning star as Joan Jett and Cherie Currie in The Runaways, the music-fueled, coming of age story of the groundbreaking, all girl 1970s rock band.

Los Angeles 1975, Joan Jett (KRISTEN STEWART) and Cherie Currie (DAKOTA FANNING), two teenage valley girls with punk in their blood, meet and become the heart and soul of the seminal all girl band, The Runaways. Floria Sigismondi brings The Runaways to the big screen in this story of a group of extraordinary young women as they rise from rebellious Southern California kids to rock stars of the now legendary band that paved the way for future generations of girl musicians. Under the Svengali-like influence of rock impresario Kim Fowley (MICHAEL SHANNON), the group evolves into an outrageous success and a family of misfits. With its tough-chick image and raw talent, the band quickly earns a name for itself—and so do its two leads: Joan is the band’s pure rock' n' roll heart, while Cherie, with her Bowie-Bardot looks, is the sex kitten.

Movie Review:

If you haven’t heard of the 1970s teenage rock band The Runaways, we don’t blame you. Neither had we in fact until this movie came along. You may however be more familiar with the name Joan Jett, guitarist of The Runaways, who after her departure from the band gained fame for her cover of the Arrows song “I Love Rock N Roll” as well as other hits like “Crimson and Clover”, “Bad Reputation” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You”.

Were it not for the subsequent success of Joan Jett, we’d doubt that this biopic will be made. Written and directed by music video director Floria Sigismondi, the film is a chronicle of the divergent fates of Jett and lead singer of the Runaways, Cherrie Curie, two teenage girls who rose to prominence quickly during the late 1970s with their all-girl band but faded out just as swiftly. For both of these fates, they had music producer Kim Fowley to thank- Fowley helped make their wild dream of forming an all-girl teenage band real in the male-dominant music industry of rock and roll but also caused their eventual dissolution after they parted ways over monetary disagreements.

With its grasp firmly on the pulse of the 1970s, Sigismondi’s feature film debut draws you in right at the start with its authentic evocation of the mood and feel of the era. This was a time when rock and roll was a distinct teen subculture (way before Adam Lambert made glam rock hip again), complete with leather jackets, outrageous clothes, makeup, hairstyles and platform-soled boots. It was also a rebellious age when people were more daring to challenge the mores and conventions of their time, which one could argue, emboldened Jett and Currie to challenge the men-only era of rock music then.

Through the attention and detail paid to the look of the film, Sigmismondi effectively invokes a clear nostalgia to a bygone era, and the atmosphere under which The Runaways came to be. Shot by Benoit Debit, the film benefits from a strong visual flair whether is it in the sun-baked California landscapes or the throbbing neon-lights of the nightclubs. The magnetism of this genuine sense of realism in the film successfully invites its audience to become immersed in a world that those who have lived through will certainly reminisce and others who haven’t can no doubt still envisage.

But for all its bravado in portraying the headiness of the times- sex, drugs and rock and roll- “The Runaways” becomes surprisingly tame when telling its story of the band itself. From Joan and Cherrie’s meteoric rise to fame, to their reckless insouciance getting high on booze and drugs, to Cherrie’s subsequent impetuousness and egoism, to the band’s eventual squabbles and inevitable breakup, there is a distinct sense of familiarity in its proceedings that seem content to stick to the standard formula of a music biography. Indeed, it is a tad ironic that although its subject was a band which was not afraid to be different, this biopic more than hits a few familiar notes of a rock and roll anthem.

Still, if the film remains engaging throughout, it is firmly to the credit of Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning’s confident and passionate performances. Freed from the confines of playing the moppy Bella Swan, Stewart proves once again the promise she showed in her pre-Twilight days as one of the brightest teen actresses of this generation. Fanning’s bold, amped up and sexed up performance may indeed be a revelation from her safe childhood roles, but Stewart is front and centre the heart and soul of the film, capturing perfectly her character’s youthful ambition and adolescent anxieties.

As Fowley, Michael Shannon’s colourful performance is also quite the scene-stealer. Clearly relishing his larger-than-life role, Shannon infuses his character with a manic energy that lights up the screen every time he appears. And thanks to the lively performances by Stewart, Fanning and Shannon, “The Runaways” is more than your straightforward biopic of the ‘70s all-girl rock band. It isn’t always as wild and engaging as it should be, but there’s more than enough pizzazz here to rock your socks off by the time the smoke clears.

Movie Rating:

(Like the band and its music, there’s a raw energy to the film- thanks to Stewart and Fanning’s passionate acting- that will keep you electrified)

Review by Gabriel Chong


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