As Britain in overwhelmed by Olympic sponsors, Fast Girls may be best advert of the lot, released just as the games are set to begin. Although copyright ensures London 2012 is never explicitly mentioned, the event is a key factor in the film. It’s the story of a working-class girl who becomes a sports star, and ties in nicely with the Olympic ethos – everyone is in it together.
Fast Girls is a strong feature-length debut from director Regan Hall, cut his teeth with commercials and shorts. His advertisement-based background is evident in the film’s stylistics, however: shots are delicately planned and precise, and the Fast Girls’ stunning aesthetics remain its major strength. It is perhaps too slick at times, stylised to the point of looking like a hybrid of a Lucozade advert and high-tempo music video, rather than a conventional comedy-drama.
Hall’s film does avoid one major problem of sports-based films, namely the execution of the sport itself; Fast Girls handles this brilliantly – a direct consequence of Hall’s considered visual approach. The film’s race sequences combine various techniques to demonstrate the characters’ desire, passion, and will, and it’s never repetitive, dull or confusing.
The film’s successes not only lie in its visual quality: the script co-written by Noel Clarke of Kidulthood fame is excellent – witty with moments reminiscent of other British successes, such as Attack The Block. On the downside, as funny as the film is, it lacks any real shocks or twists, and the narrative is as conventional as sports films come – girl has talent, girl has doubts, girl’s talent overcomes doubts. But with the Olympics just around the corner, the film does exactly what it intends to do, namely unite the nation in cheering on the British stars strutting their stuff this summer.
In doing this, casting is crucial.. Being Human’s Lenora Crichlow is without doubt the star of the show, and she excels as streetwise Shania. She has no money, no job, and no chance if she fails at athletics. Shania is the focus of the film, and rightly so; she struggles to juggle the vigorous life of professional running and manage her turbulent home life in an inner city council estate. The film offers social commentary, showing the need for the working class to opportunity to escape their day-to-day troubles; Shania is the epitome of what can be achieved if given that opportunity.
Shania’s working class background contrasts with Lily James’ cold-hearted rich girl Lisa Temple. Lisa initially comes across as the typical snooty upper class girl who has had her successes handed to her on a plate, yet it’s her storyline – her relationship with her father – that provides one of the film’s most emotionally striking moments.
Furthermore, with comic relief moments from Noel Clarke and Merlin’s Bradley James, and several farcical moments (including one that sees the aspiring Team GB Relay team outrunning a group of attackers in London), the film does well in delivering an emotional insight into the characters’ lives and proving an enjoyable experience at the same time.
The term ‘feel good’ film is flung around a lot these days, but for this film, it’s right on the money. At times, Fast Girls is so British it hurts – to the point that it may even alienate international audiences – yet it is precisely this British quality that attracts audiences and reminds us the Olympics may actually be good. Maybe.
Source: The Hollywood News