Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on March 2011

©2010 Runaways Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved

This is a somewhat sanitized (but still suitably raunchy) account of the rise and disintegration of the pioneering mid-’70s all-girl rock band noted for launching the career of Joan Jett (played by Kristen Stewart, who can actually act when not working opposite shirtless vampires and werewolves). The main character, however, is not Jett but lead singer Cherie Currie, played with I-ain’t-a-kid-no-more chutzpah by a somewhat disturbingly sexual Dakota Fanning. I liked that the film concentrated as much on the music as on the misbehaving, and the songwriting, rehearsal and concert scenes ring true. Writer/director Floria Sigismondi once made music videos, and she gets the vibe right. Dakota and Kristen do their own singing; I’ve heard worse. But the most entertaining character is played by scene-stealer Michael Shannon (Oscar nom for Revolutionary Road). He eagerly disappears into the role of legendary whacko agent/promoter Kim Fowley, who knew exactly what he was doing when he put this angry, estrogen-fueled, jailbait band together. To play this character, overacting is not only excusable, it’s required. There’s a Japan angle: The Runaways were more popular here than in the US (gee, I wonder why), and Tokyo was the scene of one of Cherie’s most memorable melt-downs. Ending’s weak.