The screen fades in and a drop of blood splatters onto the cement. For a moment, I think I might have accidentally gone to see Twilight, but then the moody riffs of "Roxy Roller" begin as Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) and her sister Marie realize that Cherie has just gotten her period outside of the Pup n' Fries. It is the first in a series of instances of Cherie losing her innocence in the timeline of being a Runaway, and, for the symbolism alone, the best possible way to open a film about The Runaways.
The pacing of the script moves rapidly from there, another way in which it mirrors The Runaways' lifestyle, cutting between Joan Jett's (Kristen Stewart) struggle with finding anyone who will take her quest to start an all-girl rock band seriously and Cherie's denial about her broken family (she has a dad who "just likes to drink," a mother who relocates to Indonesia with her new husband, and a sister whose jealousies of Cherie are made clear through her constant discouragements).
Once Joan Jett meets producer Kim Fowley, a fixture of the L.A. club scene, all of the chips seem to fall into place as he directs her to Sandy West, who he had met previously in the parking lot of the Rainbow Bar & Grill (though it does not happen this way in the movie) and who was possibly the only decent female drummer in town. Kim Fowley's "wacky" presence is of course nothing close to the truth about his behavior, but when you need someone to sign a paper relinquishing his life rights, it's probably best to promise a sunny portrayal.
As the movie indicates, Rodney Bingenheimer, the renowned L.A. DJ, is the man unwittingly responsible for getting Cherie into The Runaways act. Fowley, apparently looking for his group's eye candy, found her at Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco, where Cherie gravitated because of her Bowie obsession. And by the way, let's thank Bowie for essentially every band that ever succeeded him because there really doesn't seem to be anyone who was not influenced by his music (see Control for further evidence).
After several abusive rehearsals, the girls are ready to play at house parties and, soon after, Japan. I told you things moved fast. Sigismondi's background in the tempo of music videos makes her rather adept at timing and knowing the importance of images. At one point, as The Runaways are about to explode, like the tagline says, candy-coated fonts and headlines flash across the screen marking their speedy rise to recognition.
What the biopic fails to do, however, is acknowledge any too unpleasant realities mentioned in Cherie Currie's autobiography Neon Angel, on which the film is loosely based. Its other somewhat irksome quality is having Stewart and Fanning sing. But, just as it is the case with music, it is doubtful that anyone is going to see The Runaways for Stewart and Fanning's acting, let alone their vocal talents.