The movie left me speechless (well, at least contemplative) for a number of reasons. I was definitely impressed by the acting chops displayed by the young leads. I had never seen Kristen Stewart, but this young woman embodied what I remembered of Joan Jett. She was tough yet vulnerable and never gave in. I enjoyed her reaction to her instructor's proclamation that "girls don't play electric guitars." Joan plugs in anyway. I was not a major fan of the Runaways' music, but I admired their panache and toughness. Dakota Fanning, whose work I did know, has grown up. She was Cherrie Currie, the Bardotesque child sex kitten caught in a web of fame she can't escape. Fanning made me think of the youthful Drew Barrymore, and I've loved Drew ever since she and ET screamed in unison. Drew, of course, is the descendent of a great acting family, but Ms. Fanning was impressive. The supporting actors also are solid. Riley Keogh, the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley, was excellent as Cherrie's older sister. The King lives on!
What also struck me is the way young people are manipulated by the entertainment industry, particularly young women. The Kim Fowley character uses the girls to his advantage, manipulating them and then deserting them as his own needs dictate. I was reminded of all those young people, male and female, who sign contracts and are metaphorically raped. For example, two young men named Lennon and McCartney never owned the bulk of their own songs. In this movie, the young girls burned out because no one had their interests at heart. Fowley was a Svengali and a Rasputin, using the girls to make himself a legend. The young performers suffered.