The Runaways is arguably a transitional film for both Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart: both have become famous through roles that run the risk of the actresses being type-cast. Fanning’s most famous role to date, War of the Worlds, whilst well performed simply furthered Fanning’s reputation as a child star. Perhaps as a result, in recent years Fanning has taken upon films which have been seemingly intended to promote herself as serious actress. Stewart too, to the cynical viewer, can be seen as undertaking her role as a direct attempt to throw off the shackles of her role as Bella Swan in the Twilight films.
Fanning and Stewart play Cherie Currie and Joan Jett respectively, part of the line-up of The Runaways, a band which formed in 1975. Whilst only together for four years their impact as an all female rock band still resonates today. The film depicts the band shortly before they formed, right up until Currie decided to leave the band, wishing to get her life back.
Whilst in reality the band’s impact was certainly widespread, the story itself hardly burns the celluloid, despite being so determined to do so. Unfortunately The Runaways isn’t quite as rebellious, nor as shocking, as it wishes to be, and the anarchist rock message its stars spout border on cringe-worthy, especially to an older audience who will be more than familiar with the era the film depicts.
Alongside this, the narrative itself is simply not engaging enough, encouraging very little connection with any of the characters. The film only focuses on Currie and Jett, ignoring the rest of the band, leaving them as mere bystanders, reducing the roles they themselves played.
Michael Shannon plays their seedy manager Kim Fowley, whose sleaze reaches unbelievable levels; arranging for Currie to have what equates to soft-porn photographs taken to further her career, or holding phone conversations whilst engaging in sex. Despite the film’s basis on truth, Fowley’s character is so over-the-top that he fails to ring true.
Fanning and Stewart perform flawlessly, both impress; Fanning is especially bold in her portrayal of Currie, ensuring the audience forget any remnants of her prior child star career. Whilst the film itself is unlikely to make any real waves, it is undeniably entertaining for its duration, albeit not particularly exciting.