Romy Shiller

The Runaways

In 3rd Wave Feminism, Film, review on August 29, 2011 at 11:11 am

Girls have got balls. They’re just a little higher up that’s all.

Joan Jett

I adored the film The Runaways.

Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning star as Joan Jett and Cherie Currie in the music-fueled coming of age story of the groundbreaking, all-girl rock band, The Runaways. They fall under the Svengali-like influence of rock impresario Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon, Pearl Harbor), who turns the rebellious Southern California kids into a rock group with outrageous success. With its tough-chick image and raw talent, the band quickly earns a name for itself and so do its two leads: Joan is the band’s pure rock n’ roll heart, while Cherie, with her Bowie-Bardot looks, is the sex kitten.(

Even though I was very young (sure!), I remember Joan Jett. The Runaways was off my radar or I was too young. Joan Jett was before her time – powerful, rocker-chick. I keep thinking of Courtney Love and Hole.

The film accurately portrays the aesthetic of the day.  The make-up, hair, costumes – OMG. Also the reproduced drug-haze, mirrored at times by the cinematography, and excessive rocker lifestyle is remarkable. Surprisingly good acting from Kristen Stewart (Twilight Saga) and Dakota Fanning who certainly left her child image behind.

There is a grittiness to the film. The filth, sleaze and grossness aren’t kept locked away or made tidy.

Cameron Crowe’s autobiographical film Almost Famous is: “about the experiences of a teenage music journalist who goes on the road with an emerging band in the early 1970s “ (Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia) and in retrospect it feels sanitized compared toThe Runaways.

I had a band in the early 1990s and while we were far from as edgy as The Runaways many of the feelings about music in this film strike a chord.

Many of my current interests are reflected in the film such as, girl-power, otherness, difference, marginalization… Even without my stuff I think it’s a great film.

Joan Jett’s urge to play music and become famous is captured. I’m pretty sure that most people see the film for her. It is quite astonishing to see her beginnings and even though it’s Cherie’s story we are given a major glimpse into Joan Jett’s life.

According to the commentary, Joan Jett says that director Floria Sigismondi sacrificed certain historical accuracies in favor of cinematic watch-ability. Even though this is a biography it is foremost a film.

Anyhow, what is real? I am reminded of what I once said in an article. “Ideas of ‘the real’ we hold are very interesting to me on many levels. Reality television exemplifies a level that suggests that if an actual person, not an actor, says or does certain things, it is fact and genuine. Things like editing or producing are invisible. I was in a mini-documentary (“Modern documentaries have some overlap with television forms, with the development of “reality television” that occasionally verges on the documentary…Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia) and sure what I chose to say came from my own mind but I had no choice in what was used, I had no say in how it was put together and it followed a predetermined aesthetic in keeping with the news-show airing it (even though the fabulous woman filming it had her own style). I would gladly do it again and was asked to be in a feature-length film documentary, but I am under no false illusion here. Even documentaries are ‘unreal.’” (Big Bother)

        The Runaways is not a documentary but based on a biographical book by Cherie Currie. We have this idea that the book and film are ‘real.’ The way that I perceive it is that both are based on real people and events but the facts are not fixed or secure. Joan Jett’s comments confirm this idea.

A rock aesthetic in the film appears to be authentic. The abject rejection of authority figures, the climb from obscurity and poverty to renown and wealth – capture the imagination.

I felt pulled into a brand new world.



Almost Famous. Dir. Cameron Crowe. Columbia Pictures. 2000.
Accessed July 24, 2010.

The Runaways. Dir. Floria Sigismondi. River Road Entertainment. 2010.

Shiller, Romy. Big Bother.
Accessed July 29, 2010.

Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.
July, 25, 2010.
Accesed July 25, 2010.

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