“The Runaways” is electrifying

Chandler Clemens

“Hello boys, I’m your wild girl, I’m your ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!” Little do people know the back story to The Runaways, the first all female rock-band responsible for this titular anthem. They we’re formed during a time primarily dominated by male bands and when it was practically unheard of that girls knew how to really “rock n’ roll.”

We start off in the year 1975, when Joan Jett (Kirsten Stewart) stumbles upon Kim Fowley (a fanatically brilliant Michael Shannon worthy of an Oscar), impressionist, manager, songwriter, and all-around loony toon. Upon uttering the words “all-girl rock-band,” Fowley immediately gets hooked to the idea. Joan is the tough-as-nails, self-proclaimed “wild-one” and leader of the pact on rhythm guitar, Lita Ford (Scout-Taylor Compton) on lead, Sandy West (Stella Maeve) on drums, and a fictionalized-version of the many Runaway bass guitarists, Robin (Alia Shawkat).

Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) is discovered by chance when Fowley goes prowling through LA nightclubs in search for a lead singer. He’s enthused by her Bowie/Bardot style and looks-to-kill facade, but also sees her as a main draw for the Runaways– the fact she’s 15 and therefore, jail-bait.

Cherie serves as the principle figure of the film in which we really get the dirt on. Her mother is self-indulgent and inconsiderate of Cherie and her sister Marie (Riley Keough). Their father is a bad alcoholic, and despite Marie’s dedication, Cherie would rather live the rock-star life than deal with familial problems. Inevitably, Cherie is overcome by the drugs, the exposure, and the constant pressure of making audiences and Fowley constantly lit.

That’s really all the juice we get in terms of an “in-depth” back story to any of the Runaways. I would have liked to have seen more spotlight on Joan’s history, seeing as she was the one responsible for forming the Runaways. Not to mention she was also just a teenager when all of the stardom came her way and yet, our knowledge of the who, the what, and the why of Joan is limited to minute details. Likewise with the rest of the bunch, who randomly pop into screen without a real introduction and therefore, meerly turn in one-note performances.

Kristen Stewart, miles away from the distasteful tween phenomena “Twilight,” is phenomenal. Stewart was limited to only a certain type of representation on paper, but on screen, breathes a necessary life into the rock icon. She personifies the anxious want, drive, and a surprising maternal complexity of Jett’s that tries to hold the band together. This is only a stepping stone for Stewart to continue to propel in areas where Bella isn’t brooding over Edward.

As for Dakota, the show truly belongs to her in the most vulnerable and mature performance of her career. Some may feel a tad uncomfortable when Stewart and Fanning lock lips and likewise during scenes of simulated drug inhalation, but the child-days are over Fanning and we all should get used to it.

It’s become a trend that child actors break out of the typical mold by doing something a bit more advantageous, and it proves no more true with Fanning. She personifies the jail-bait image of Cherie Currie who famously strutted around at such a meer age in tantalizing ladies lingerie while onstage. During an electrifying scene when Fanning performs “Cherry Bomb” during the Runaways stunt in Japan, the likeness in performance and sound between Currie and Fanning is uncanny.

“The Runaways” may seem a little bit too dense concerning historical detail, but then again, they we’re only together for 4 years compared to the long-term legacy they left behind. Director Floria Sigismondi, best known for her avant-garde work in music videos, framed “The Runaways” in the respect of a glossy, elongated music video that is both an ode to female empowerment, old-school rock n’roll, and a reflection of the budding discovery and sexual awakening of the 70s.