I’m not really a fan of band biopics. In the most part they tend to be looking back at a bands career that has already ended; a window into the past from which an older generation can remember a time ‘when good music existed’.
Saying that, the only film I’ve actually seen following a band was Spinal Tap, and it turns out they weren’t even a real band.
So it was with some slight trepidation that I sat down to watch ‘The Runaways’. For those of you who don’t know, The Runaways were the first popular all girl rock group. Formed in the 70’s by Joan Jett (who this film was also produced by) they had some success in America, but became wildly popular in Japan.
The film focusses on Cherie Currie, played by Dakota Fanning, and doesn’t really concentrate on the going on in the band, but more on their exploitation by their manager Kim Fowley and Mercury Records.
Currie ends up turning to drugs and alcohol and the film mainly deals with the effects of this and the almost sexual exploitation of her by the manager through some misleading information, and how this affects her personal life and dealings with the band.
The Runaways is more of an insight of allowing the freedoms of adulthood to those unprepared for it rather than a band biopic; and I think this is why it works. Kirsten Stewart actually acts, rather than looking longingly at vampires, and Dakota Fanning manages, once again, to be convincing. It also appears they can both ACTUALLY sing, without having to be autotuned to oblivion. Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Shannon as manager Kim Fowley also comes across as convincing, if slightly mental.
So, should you watch it? Tentative yes.
It’s not a filmaking landmark, and it’s quite a slow burner, but it’s still enjoyable.