There's a lot to like about The Runaways. The film looks right, as if the director has been poring over rock photography of the era: everything's a little hazy and camera angles are increasingly akimbo late in the film as the band begins to spiral out of control. The performances feels right too: Kristen Stewart is sexy and tough as Joan Jett; Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie nails the "jailbait" appeal of the band's lead singer (watching her makes you a little uncomfortable, as it should); and the always odd and interesting Michael Shannon gets to go suitably over-the-top as Kim Fowley, the canny, loopy producer of The Runaways and many bands of the era. All these things work so well that it's hard to pinpoint exactly what's wrong with the film. I'll blame the screenplay, which is certainly a bit lacking, rarely as incisive as it should be and occasionally veering into a broad comic tone that's out of place. The writing gives us a real feel for the personas of Joan, Cherie, and Fowley, but they never quite feel like flesh-and-blood human beings somehow (and the rest of the band is largely ignored altogether). Even so, the film has points to make that are worth considering. Although we may often consider the 70's a period of musical integrity, the film shows us that The Runaways were as much a manufactured, mass-marketed media creation as some of the bands we deride today. There's talent there, to be sure, but talent is secondary to Fowley, at least as he's portrayed here. Yet the film's final scenes suggest, optimistically, as Jett emerges as an important artist despite the circumstances, that passion and talent will ultimately win the day.
All this aside, however, it's our friend Beth's blog who provides the most compelling reason to see the film:
"Kristen Stewart jumping around in a t-shirt and black panties, with Joan Jett hair, and an electric guitar, is just movie gold; I don’t care who you are!"
Let's just hope Ms. Stewart's talent keeps emerging (in films like this and Adventurland) even while she's chained to the fucking Twilight series!