Over the past decade, there have been a couple of genres that have taken over the film industry; superhero and post-apocalyptic. These genres have mostly been led by white men until more recently, with movies like Captain Marvel and Black Panther. But a new movie, Fast Color, blends these two genres with a family of black women at its center.
Fast Color takes place in a future where it has stopped raining. It follows a woman named Ruth, who has seizures that create earthquakes, as she returns to her childhood home to evade the government and try to control her powers. The film manages to hide a somewhat generic plot with a lot of charm and an incredible lead cast.
The story itself is a blend of a million clichés that have been done time and time again. There’s a menacing government who wants to capture the main character, a series of predictable twists, and characters learning how to be a family through petty arguments. It honestly seems like a young adult novel from 2013, but somehow that doesn’t come across as that big of a deal. Instead, the film uses this to its advantage by changing expectations ever so slightly and centering around a group that isn’t often present in this genre: women of color. The sense of empowerment related to its characters is extremely strong, and this is only aided by the acting and dialogue. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays Ruth, has an incredible sense of body language that instantly creates a relatable and motivating character. She feels like a real person, not just a set of character traits, like so many other main characters from post-apocalyptic stories.
The rest of the cast is amazing too. Lorraine Toussaint is full of emotion, and her chemistry with both Mbatha-Raw and child actress Saniyya Sidney is palpable. It is exceptionally believable that this is a real family. Toussaint also shows her extreme talent in the last twenty minutes of the film, which is arguably one of the best closing acts in a movie this year. It’s pure magic to watch. This magic is backed up by a lot of the more technical aspects of the film. The writing is absolutely beautiful, and although it isn’t based on a book, it’s very novel-like. The visuals are also stunning. From the first minute, the cinematography is captivating. It grounds the world successfully, while also capturing color and movement to create a perfect sense of tone. Every establishing shot amazes and every close-up is intimate and raw. The soundtrack and score of the movie was perhaps one of the best parts. The songs actually felt like they belonged and meant something real for the characters, while the score furthered the epic tone of the last third of the movie. The strings sent shivers down my spine, almost bringing me to tears.
The care given to this movie was evident in every scene. There’s an attention to detail with the characters that isn’t present in most superhero movies. They feel bigger than just the one and a half hours that the film fills. It is important for young kids to see people like themselves on screen, and Fast Color does this perfectly. There’s not a question about whether the characters’ race or gender is a burden, instead they are celebrated for who they are.
The movie follows a family of black women who are shown to be self-sufficient and powerful. This group isn’t often shown in a positive light, so it’s amazing to see them hold so much power and wisdom without becoming stereotypes.
The pure empowerment that was so present throughout the entire film makes this much more than a story of superpowers and the end of the world. It’s a message that black girls can do whatever they want, that they’re bigger than the world around them. It’s beautiful.
I would recommend Fast Color to most moviegoers. While some people might be annoyed down by the predictable plot and exposition, the visuals and well represented characters would probably win them over. If you can see it in theaters, do, but if not, keep the name in your head and wait until it’s available somewhere online. It’s not often that a movie this special comes out, so it’s an incredibly worthwhile watch.