It was inevitable when London was awarded the 2012 Olympic
It was inevitable when London was awarded the 2012
Olympic Games that the British film industry would go into overdrive to ensure
a sports film would hit cinemas just prior to the Games and whet the appetite.
That film is Fast Girls
which, despite the title, focuses on running rather than promiscuity.
Londoner Shania (Lenora Crichlow)
trains everyday with her loyal coach Brian (Philip Davis), qualifying for the national 200m-sprint team. There she encounters privileged Lisa (Lily James), a spoilt little rich girl
whose father (Rupert Graves) has
enough money and influence to ensure Lisa to make the team. So when Shania is drafted in by coach
Tommy (Noel Clarke) to run in the
relay she must learn to deal with Lisa in the hope they can be teammates and
run all the way to the gold medal.
The key thing
about any sports movie is not necessarily doing anything particularly original
but doing it right. Fast Girls
almost manages this but only in its dying moments. For the most part it is a fairly arduous affair, content to
merely plod along, going through the motions, like a mean-spirited Bend It Like Beckham. Shania and Lisa clash, at first,
because of class differences, then because a good-looking physio drives a
further wedge between them.
Disappointingly, the film also completely wastes the opportunity for
some tasteful Personal Best-style
Sapphic shenanigans between our two heroines which might have livened things up
Where Fast Girls
really disappoints however is in the sprinting moments. The title implies these girls are quick
but director Regan Hall certainly
doesn’t shoot them that way. Every
set-piece is filmed in super slow-motion with emphasis on tight close-ups
rather than quick tracking shots.
At no point in the film do you get any sense of urgency or pace. This sort of thing might work on a
glossy Nike commercial with a piece of classical music over the top (or 30
years ago when Chariots Of Fire came out), but not now when you need to be in
the thick of it, with a pumping soundtrack, feeling the blood sweat and
tears. Today’s youth are far too
sophisticated for that. They need
fast-cutting to an urban soundtrack.
Instead Fast Girls gives them, well, actors running. With extras running around them. Just that little bit slower than the
actors. And more laughable
montages than Team America.
paint-by-numbers, box-ticking script gives the actors little to do other than
be sulky stereotypes but to their credit you do find yourself rooting for them
come the climax. Crichlow, best
known as Annie from Being Human, has
enough sass combined with bitter insecurities to make you want her to do well.
James has an accent so plummy she’s one bad race away from Made In Chelsea while Graves as her father, better known as TV
Sherlock’s frustrated Inspector Lestrade, is on villainous duty but with an
almost paternal instinct you firmly believe in until the script snatches it
away from him. Noel Clarke, who also wrote the script, pleasingly plays against
type, and the loveable Philip Davis as Shania’s coach is the closest thing to
intentional light relief the film has.
Firmly aimed at
young girls, no doubt with the intent to inspire them to get off their arses
and do a bit of exercise, Fast Girls just doesn’t make the podium.