The Runaways, rock-chick biopic, rated R, Regal DeVargas, 988-2775, 2.5 chiles
Iis structured as a chronological biopic with a firm focus on the intimacies and gradually building emotional tensions among band members — specifically those between Currie (Dakota Fanning) and Joan Jett (the Twilight franchise’s Kristen Stewart) during the band’s short yet storied life in the 1970s.
Sigismondi, who has directed videos for the likes of Marilyn Manson, David Bowie, Björk, Christina Aguilera, and The White Stripes, infuses the screenplay with a degree of adolescent sexuality and raw rock ’ n’ roll grit that will have Hannah Montana disciples running scared. The real Runaways embodied a paradigm shift in the testosterone-heavy matrix of ensemble rock while simultaneously revealing fame’s lack of gender bias when it comes to three-chord-assisted (OK, maybe four) self-destruction.
Urged along by drugs, alcohol, fractured home lives, and a pansexual libido associated with the key-swapping adult swinger set of the times, Jett, Currie, and their band mates had plenty of help crafting their streetwise personas. Kim Fowley ( Revolutionary Road’s Michael Shannon) is the enigmatic music producer who brought the original band’s lineup together in 1975 while trolling for underage talent at Rodney Bingenheimer’s glam-rock nightclub on the Sunset Strip.
Once he has assembled his players, Fowley puts them through a battery of demeaning rehearsals and auditions in a cramped San Fernando Valley trailer — they’re battered with beer cans and dog poop to prep them for stardom. Audiences learn early on that female exploitation is exponentially more important to the sadistic Fowley than musical talent. It’s the packaging that matters, and for that, nothing less than a blonde-bombshell frontgirl will do. Fowley finds his golden egg in Currie, a 15-year-old shrinking violet with Farrah Loosely based on a memoir by The Runaways’ lead singer, Cherie Currie, this feature-length debut from Canadian photographer/music-video director Floria Sigismondi (she writes and directs here) captures the pre-Riot Grrrl gestalt of the female rocker like few films have before. Unlike straightforward rock docs like Penelope Spheeris’ 1981 classic, The Decline of Western Civilization, The Runaways