Set in a future dystopian United States in which water is running out, Julia Hart’s Fast Color (2018) is a refreshingly different take on the superhero film. Focused almost entirely on the quieter details of three generations of women with powers rather than on action sequences, the movie is intriguing and beautiful, though perhaps lacking in some of the depth that it could have explored. Where the majority of superhero movies center the stories of white men, this one beautifully tells the story of three black women and their love and power.
Fast Color follows Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a woman with earthquake-inducing seizures caused by supernatural abilities that she cannot control. On the run from the law and scientists who want to learn about her powers, she eventually ends up back home with her mother Bo (Lorraine Toussaint) and daughter Lila (Saniyya Sidney), who also have supernatural abilities, which have been passed down through the generations of women in their family.
The film is paced very slowly, which lends itself to the exploration of the details of these three generations of women, rather than on the fighting sequences that you might expect from a superhero film. However, the gentler emotion-based nature of the movie works very well, especially due to the performances, specifically that of Mbatha-Raw, whose Ruth is both strong and vulnerable, full of pain and power. One qualm that I have with the film is its lack of depth in some areas. While it touches on issues such as addiction and giving up a child, it doesn’t explore them much and where it does touch on them there isn’t much subtlety to the writing.
One of my favorite elements of the film is its cinematography and color-scheme, which are often quite beautiful. From shots where a green glow stick serves as the main illumination to beautiful blues and lavenders in the sky, the movie is visually striking. The effects used for the women’s powers are also gorgeous.
I did find myself a little disappointed by the almost-too-convenient ending. It exudes catharsis but doesn’t feel entirely satisfying in its convenience. The ending causes the film as a whole to read like a superhero origin story, leaving me wishing to see a sequel where more of the world and characters’ potentials are explored. I was excited to learn that the film is being adapted into a TV series by Amazon, and I’m looking forward to eventually viewing how it’s developed in such a format, which I can see giving the story more room to grow.
Directed by a woman and starring three black women, Fast Color shows that a sci-fi movie such as this one does not need to be led by a man, and is, in fact, more powerful for the fact that it is not, something that major studios could learn from. I would recommend checking out this underrated film for a beautiful and emotional story that tackles both the supernatural elements of a sci-fi movie and the warmth and love of a family drama.
Movie Review Originally Posted by Maddie Rehrman