The brand new biopic “The Runaways” is a refreshing idea, considering it has one of the most definitive all-girl rock bands of all time as its narrative foundation. Kristen Stewart (“Twilight”) and Dakota Fanning (“War of the Worlds”) play Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, respectively. Both embody their roles satisfactorily, as one would expect from their previous work — though it’s rather unsettling to witness our favorite prototypical “cute girl” (Fanning, of course) engaging in disturbingly debaucherous deeds onscreen.

“The Runaways”

At the State
Apparition Distribution

The film chronicles the short-lived existence of punk sensation The Runaways, a band originally composed of Cherie Currie, Lita Ford, Jackie Fox, Joan Jett and Sandy West. These five female sex symbols were introduced to the sordid world of mainstream music at a very young age, when some of them were only in their mid-teens. The majority of screen time is dedicated to showcasing Fanning and Stewart as up-and-coming young actresses, but their excursion through the bowels of the music industry isn’t anything to cheer at; it’s the same old mantra of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. Yawn.

The whole film is just another reexamination of a familiar plot thread, too: rags-to-riches, back to rags and finally to an ultimate sense of renewal. The story arc most closely resembles that of the Mark Wahlberg vehicle “Rock Star” in its use of predictable dramatic turns to pull the same overworn heartstrings, but its unorthodox thematic material definitely deserves a closer look.

In spite of spending only four years together, The Runaways had a definitive historical role as the precursor to dozens of punk rock acts composed of both men and women, including The Donnas, Courtney Love, Babes In Toyland and Black Flag. However, if you’d prefer an in-depth analysis of this pivotal band as opposed to its sanitized Hollywood counterpart, watch “Edgeplay: A Film About the Runaways.” It’s an accurate, comprehensive documentary feature that’s far more likely to please die-hard fans.

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