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Blog by Don Kennedy

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The Runaways

The Runaways was a 70’s band unique in that it was the first female truly rock band. It was also notable that it was legendary rocker Joan Jett’s training ground for later more successful work with the Blackhearts. Kristen Stewart with tough frailty gives a stunningly authentic portrayal of Jett but like the real Jett in The Runaways she’s upstaged by the equally capable Dakota Fanning who exudes the naughty pubescence of vocalist Cherie Currie. Joan and Cherie were driven as much by alienated home lives as by teenage ambition but these inspirations alone could not have gotten them anywhere. It took an oily producer named Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon) who was a repulsive as he was ingenious at moulding The Runaways that also included guitarist Lita Ford (Scout Taylor-Compton), drummer Sandy West (Stella Maeve) and a composite bass player called Robin (played by a surprisingly dialogueless Alia Shawkat). Like their vastly outnumbering rock male counterparts their short but meteoric careers included all the basics of Rock and Roll - drugs and yes eventually sex of all persuasions which for girls so young is a creepy thought. Kudos to Canadian raised director Floria Sigismondi for making that aspect believable with a minimum crawling of skin. Although Cherie (whose mother ironically is played by tarnished former child star Tatum O'Neal) succumbed most overtly to the hard core lifestyle she had a softer side that prevailed. However for Joan Jett there was no turning back and clearly of the two she really was the one who loved rock and roll as she loudly proclaimed in her best known post Runaways anthem.