For all its rock’n’roll rebellion and punk power, there’s something quite conventional about music promo director Floria Sigismondi’s biopic about The Runaways, the ’70s all-girl group that gave the world Joan Jett. Perhaps it’s that the arc it follows is rather standard-issue. From hope to heartache via the usual heady cocktail of drink, drugs and catfights, if the band were groundbreaking in their time, the film could hardly be called the same.
Still, at its core is a trio of excellent performances. Kristen Stewart, again proving she’s more than just Bella in Twilight, delivers a forthright turn as the teenage Jett, a leather-clad rebel who has already got the preening rock queen act down pat. Dakota Fanning, as the blonde bombshell – and band’s lead singer – Cherie Currie, delicately calibrates her evolution from lost innocent to prowling sex kitten. And then there’s the magnificent Michael Shannon, who lets rip as the band’s potty-mouthed manager, Kim Fowley.
Based on Currie’s book Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story, the story is guilty of siding with the author, from the moment she’s recruited in a nightclub by Jett and Fowley to be the band’s new singer. Even if the film is meant to be about the central Jett-Currie relationship, the camera always has its eye on the latter. As she mouths the words to ‘Cherrybomb’, the song that breaks the band into the big-time, it’s clear she’s meant to be the film’s explosive element. Problem is, the fuse is never quite lit.
Selected release, Fri 10 Sep.