Before watching this movie, or rather I should say that before I knew about the topic of this movie, I had no clue who Cherie Currie was. I was well aware of Joan Jett and Lita Ford but did not know that the two of them had been in a band together before they became very famous and that the band was fronted by a singer called Cherie Currie. This I did find out when I watched an interview with Cherie & Matt (former GnR & Cult drummer, now of Velvet Revolver) who are collaborating for Cherie’s new musical project. So anyway The Runways is a biopic about the 1970s all-girl punk rock band of the same name, written and directed by Floria Sigismondi, who based the screenplay on the book Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway by the band’s original lead vocalist Cherie Currie. Dakota Fanning plays Currie, Kristen Stewart plays rhythm guitarist and vocalist Joan Jett, and Michael Shannon plays record producer Kim Fowley.
Currie is a teenager living in Los Angeles idolizing David Bowie and wanting to be a rock star. She dresses u like Bowie for a talent show and wins the contest inspite of initially being heckled. Joan Jett, a bisexual teen who plays guitar is also searching for rock stardom. She meets producer Kim Fowley and talks about starting an all girl rock band; Kim in turn introduces her to drummer Sandy West (Stella Maeve). The two girl become friends and are on the lookout for a singer when they meet Cherie, who they invite to audition in their trailer. At her less than inspiring audition, Kim and Joan write up a song, Cherry Bomb, on the spot for her which she slowly proceeds to do much better singing on. The Runaways, joined by Lita Ford (Scout Taylor-Compton) on lead guitar and Robin (Alia Shawkat) on bass is formed.
The band is signed to Mercury Records and soon hit the road. Cherie’s sister is initially upset & jealous that her younger sibling can go on the road and become famous while she has to stay back and take care of their father. The band record an album which propelled by their hit single Cherry Bomb starts climbing the charts. Success brings them to Japan where screaming hordes of fans mob them. However it seems that Cherie is the main attraction and considered to be a sex symbol. When a magazine photo shoot of Cherie, which she didn’t tell the band about, is discovered by Lita, she causes a fit. Cherie is shocked because she thought the article would be of all of them with individual photo sessions. As Lita, Cherie, and Joan argue, crazy fans break through the window and chase the girls out of the building. Cherie’s drug problems become worse. She overdoses in the hotel, collapses in an elevator and is sent to the hospital. Upon arriving back in the United States, Cherie begins to abuse her alcoholic father’s painkillers.
During the recording for the next album Cheri has a breakdown, argues with Kim and refuses to play. Lita insults her and though Joan defends her, Cherie quits the band. The band is broken up and go their separate ways. After moping around for months Joan starts her own band Joan Jett & The Heartbreakers and becomes a huge success. Cherie goes on a drug & drinking spree and collapses and has to be hospitalized. A few years later while working a 9-5 retail store job, Cherie hears Joan being interviewed on the radio. She calls the station and has an awkward conversation with Joan and the station interviewer for a couple of minutes. Cherie keeps the phone and goes back to work, smiling as another Joan Jett song plays on the radio.
It’s a good movie describing the excess that went on with the very young band and Cherie tumultuous initial bouts with the music industry. The real Cherie went on to release a few solo albums and one with her sister Marie. She also became a wood carving artist for a while and now has a new musical project.
7 out of 10!