The Runaways review - You can keep your Baby, Posh, Sporty and Scary.
Before sanitised girl power there was The Runaways, an all-girl band formed in 1975 by 16-year-old Joan Jett, who played as hard and fast as the guys, opening doors for chicks laying down licks.
At GCSE age, these girls were touring the world, shocking audiences and wearing the hell out of leather before the inevitable sex and drugs got in the way of the rock ‘n’ roll.
It’s a story worth telling, then, and former music video director Floria Sigismondi is keen to sell the she-wolf howl The Runaways represented in an era of testosterone-fuelled rock.
From the opening image of a drop of menstrual blood to lingering shots of ’70s fashion porn that would make a Topshop devotee weep, it’s clear this film’s aimed at girls.
And for the most part it works, thanks to painstaking recreations of hazy disco-era dive bars, faded roller rinks and seedy motels, plus a ballsy performance by Kristen Stewart.
Hunched hungrily over her axe, dirty-sexy and growling her lines, she won’t please the Twi-hards, but it’s a welcome switch-up for anyone suspecting talent does indeed lurk among the vampires.
Michael Shannon also entertains as the manager who sees the bucks to be made from ‘rock bitches’. Meanwhile, Dakota Fanning does her best to move from moppet to maven as lead singer Cherie Currie, but fails to convince fully despite a parade of saucy outfits.
Apart from some evocative scenes of the band performing (with creditable singing from Stewart and Fanning) and being mobbed in Japan, The Runaways is ultimately a familiar song that never quite gets the blood pumping.
Though Jett’s the more interesting character, she plays second fiddle to Cherie (the screenplay’s based on Currie’s memoir), a tease when her story would surely have delivered a more satisfying emotional arc than the tale of one valley girl’s burnout.
A resonant nostalgia trip for those who remember and a slice of ’70s steez for everyone else, The Runaways is more of a throwaway single than a sustained concept album.