Fast Girls (review)

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Fast Girls Lenora Crichlow green light

Tales of underdog athletes getting the shameless cinematic rah-rah don’t get more wholly unsurprising than Fast Girls… and yet this flick is wholly winning thanks to its abundance of good cheer, generosity of spirit, and refusal to go too easy on its protagonist. Underclass Londoner Shania (Lenora Crichlow: Being Human) works at being a competitive track runner, even though she’s got no money to buy the new cleats she desperately needs, even though what’s left of her broken family is entirely unsupportive, even though she often trips herself up — figuratively, that is — with her brash, crass, all-id attitude. So when a mix of luck, talent, hard work, and good coaching from her pal Brian (Philip Davis: Brighton Rock) lands her on the U.K. team at the upcoming London World Athletic Championships, we’re invited to wonder how she will cope with the pressure, and whether she can get the chip off her shoulder that keeps her clashing with her posh teammates — particularly Lisa (Lily James: Wrath of the Titans), whose wealthy father (Rupert Graves: Sherlock) supports the team — in time for them all to take home the gold. (I did a Google to find out whether the London World Athletic Championships is a real thing or a wily Olympic-tie-in invention of screenwriters Jay Basu, Noel Clarke [Kidulthood], Jon Croker, and Roy Williams to glom on to the upcoming London Games. It’s real! Sorta: 2011 was held in South Korea. But it’s also still wily.) As with many captivating sports movies, it matters not one whit whether you have any interest in the game on the screen, because newbie director Regan Hall will ensure you are infected with the brute bodily exuberance of competition and movement. It’s all exactly what you expect, but Fast Girls is so dynamic and engaging that the freshest aspect of the movie is merely a welcome bonus: here is a story about young women doing sports, pouring energy and passion into something other than chasing marriage and competing among themselves over something other than men. As simple but effective crowd-pleasers go, we need more like this, please.

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