Back in the mid-1970s the idea of an all-girl rock band was outlandish – not that lead guitarist Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) could care.
First she recruits an inspirational but fraudulent promoter, Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), and then a 15-year-old David Bowie fan, Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning), to front the group. Thus follow thrills, pills and a three-chord thrash that gets the band a record deal and cements their famous "Bad Reputation". "This isn't about women's lib," shouts Fowley, "it's about women's libido." Floria Sigismondi's film is somewhat lopsided, sketching in Currie's story of trailer-park hardscrabble with an alcoholic dad and absent mum (the script is based on her memoir, Neon Angel), but more or less ignoring the other Runaways. Given that the band were more about attitude than music, there's not a lot of substance here. What keeps it going is the performances, Stewart's sulky and driven Jett and Fanning's druggy, jailbait princess kicking ass in all quarters and not averse to some Sapphic smooching after hours. But it will not be mistaken for one of the great rock biopics.