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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Biopic > Biography > Coming Of Age > Teens > Girls > Rock Music > Music Industry > Punk > The Runaways (2010/Sony DVD)

The Runaways (2010/Sony DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Film: B-



For her first narrative feature film, the Music Video director Floria Sigismondi decided to make The Runaways (2010) for the fledgling Apparition company and the film (based on the book Neon Angel by Cherie Currie) tells the story of the first hard-rocking all-female Rock band.  Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) is an aspiring musician and songwriter when she one night meets a famed record producer named Kim Fowler (Michael Shannon in a scene-stealing performance that could be an awards-time favorite) and to have a band, all they need is a lead singer.  Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning in a breakthrough role that lives up to her hype) is the unlikely choice, but she is soon leading their band.


Jett, Currie, Lita Ford, Sandy West and Jackie Fox became the band and Fowler backed them to enough of an extent that they became a hit in Japan and were signed by Mercury Records.  However, Currie was not having the best of times at home with an ill father and mother (the well-cast Tatum O’Neal) getting remarried and moving out of the country!


Still, the band had hits and were a groundbreaking unit, but personal problems with some of them, Fowler overdoing things as he always did, other pressures and indulgences like drugs stopped the band from becoming a huge success before Currie left, but this film is actually a very good telling of that story and is remarkably authentic as a 1970s period piece versus so many more expensive films.  There is some fun and some conflict here, with Stewart and Fanning pulling off their performances well and the rest of the cast doing very well.


Not well reviewed al the time, I think those who saw the film missed some key points, as well as Sigismondi trying to find a female discourse in the male-dominated Rock world here and often succeeds, but some moments hurt the film.  The early sequence where Jett and Fowler think up the hit Cherry Bomb plays more like a sequence out of Richard Linklater’s School Of Rock (2003, reviewed elsewhere on this site) and Jett confirms this is not the way it happened.  That stops the film from being even more raw and real, but more than enough works here and this is a film just dying to be discovered with a smart screenplay adaptation by Sigismondi that shows she is not just a Music Video director.


This is also very different than her Video work and I hope to see her direct again.  We have not had too many good music films in recent years, but The Runaways is one of them and it is definitely recommended.



The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image was shot on film in the Super 16mm format and can look a little weak in this DVD transfer, but I am not certain as to whether an anamorphic squeeze was used or the scope frame was cut out of the Super 16mm frame.  Director of Photography Benoît Debie (Irreversible) manages to give this a unique, palpable look missing from most HD shoots and even 35mm shoots plastered with digital effects, so that is a plus.  I would like to see the Blu-ray or a film, print to compare.  This Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is even better with a surprisingly active surround field and is also well recorded.  The combination is good, but there is more sound and image quality and fidelity here than the DVD can deliver, but this is a solid DVD just the same.  Extras include behind-the-scenes footage and an exceptional feature length audio commentary track by Jett, Stewart and Fanning that should only be heard after seeing the film.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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