Kidulthood (2006) writer Noel Clarke join forces with Lenora Crichlow, Lily James and Bradley James in New Zealand-born director Regan Hall’s Brit-flick Fast Girls (2012). Whilst this isn’t much more than a feel-good sports movie, Hall’s underdog tale provides good entertainment value for those looking ahead to this summer’s London Olympics.
When Shania Andrews (Crichlow), a runner from the wrong side of the tracks, qualifies for the World Athletics Championships, she thinks that all her dreams have come true – until she comes into contact with the ambitious, middle-class sprinter Lisa Temple (James), whose gold medal-winning father manages the team. It quickly becomes apparent that the two girl’s personal rivalries must be put to one side after they are both selected for the same British relay team.
Crichlow, best known for her turn as Annie in BBC Three’s Being Human, gives a convincing performance as the streetwise, sassy Shania, whilst James is suitably arrogant as running-rival Lisa – the perfect antithesis for Crichlow to bounce off. The rest of the supporting cast are similarly impressive, dealing with the juxtaposing variety of lifestyles and backgrounds well. Occasional use of comedy also aids the pace and is nearly always successful.
There is clear influence here from Gurinder Chadha’s Bend It Like Beckham (2002) mixed with diluted themes from Hugh Hudson’s classic Chariots of Fire (1981). With his screenplay, Clarke utilises both race and class to give the Fast Girls a certain edge, although such issues have been treated in a very family-friendly manner, intentionally lacking the realist grit found in previous works.
Compared to the serious treatment of female team rivalry seen recently in Lisa Aschan’s She Monkeys (2011), Fast Girls (2012) can seem a tad trivial. Yet it unashamedly rides on a healthily patriotic good-will, creating a story that attempts to relate to every class and creed of Britain, albeit in a light and warm-hearted manner. Hall’s London Olympics-tie-in makes for very easy viewing – nothing more, nothing less.