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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Did you realise that the 2011 Athletics World Championships were held
in London? No, neither did I. The record books will actually tell you
that they took place in Daegu, South Korea, but this film will tell you
something different. The reason is that the film was slated for release
in June 2012 to cash in on the forthcoming London Olympics, and the
original script had the characters competing for a place on the British
team for those Games. Unfortunately, the producers had failed to
realise that the International Olympic Committee take a dim view of
anyone other than an Official Sponsor cashing in on their Sacred Games,
and that the commercial use of phrases such as "London Olympics" and
"London 2012" was restricted by law, a law enforceable by some quite
ferocious criminal sanctions. Hence the invention of the fictitious
"London 2011" World Championships.
Lisa Temple is white, blonde, rich and beautiful. Shania Andrews is black (or, to be more accurate, of mixed race), brunette, working-class and also beautiful. (The name "Shania", incidentally, is pronounced Shan-EYE-ah. It does not rhyme with "Tania"). Apart from their beauty, the two young women have three things in common. They are fast (in the sense of "speedy" rather than that of "promiscuous", despite that rather obvious pun in the title). They are competing for a place on the British 4×100 metres relay team. And what is more they hate each other very much.
Cue a film which incorporates just about every sporting-drama cliché known to man or woman. There are the antagonistic duo whose initial mutual dislike turns first to mutual respect and then to friendship as they learn to work together as part of a team. There is the rich girl who at first seems like a snobby bitch and the poor girl who at first seems to have a massive chip on her shoulder but who both eventually turn out to be thoroughly Good Eggs. There is the pushy, domineering parent (in this case Lisa's father David, himself a former famous athlete). There is the inspirational coach in the shape of Shania's mentor Brian (an amateur, but far more inspirational than any professional could be). There is the sudden, unexpected stroke of bad luck when an experienced older competitor's last chance at glory is dashed by injury, (but thereby giving a chance to an up-and-coming youngster). There is the sudden, unexpected stroke of good luck; when Great Britain finish just one place away from qualification in the semi- finals I just knew what was coming next. And of course it came; the French were disqualified for an infringement. (The French athletes, unlike the British, are all white. I wonder how many decades it must be since a real French sprint relay team did not include a single black member). There is a possible love-rivalry between Shania and Lisa. There is the inevitable heartwarming triumph at the end. Change the sport and the sex of the characters, and this could be a story from a "Roy of the Rovers" comic.
Despite the immense success of "Chariots of Fire" in the early eighties, films about track-and-field athletics have been few and far between. About the only other one I can think of was the American "Personal Best" which told a rather similar story to "Fast Girls", except that the burgeoning relationship between Lisa and Shania stops at the "just good friends" stage and does not become a full-blown lesbian affair as happens with the rival athletes in the other film. Yet this cinematic dearth does not just affect athletics. There are virtually no films about cricket or Rugby Union, and surprisingly few about such popular sports as golf, tennis or even football. I think that part of the reason is that it is difficult to recreate the drama of a live sporting event on the cinema screen and part that it is difficult to write a convincing sporting drama without relying on the sort of clichés set out above.
The script did occasionally hint at some more interesting issues, such as the obviously complex relationship between Lisa and her Dad, or Shania's equally complex family background. It is even hinted that one of their colleagues in the relay squad is a "fast girl" in the other sense of the adjective and has been sleeping with potential sponsors despite being married. The film, however, seemed to shy away from exploring these issues in any depth.
Lenora Crichlow and Lily James would appear, on the evidence of this movie, to be two gifted young actresses. (This was the first time I had seen Lily; I had previously known Lenora from her role in the television series "Sugar Rush"). Actresses, however, are only as good as their material, and I hope to see these two in better and more original films than this one. 5/10
I didn't have high hopes for this film before I went to see it because I thought it was just going to be predictable. But it was amazing! You really connect with the main character through her athletic career and you are on the edge of your seat in the races. I went to see it with a couple of friends just for a day out and we came out of the cinema very happy - much happier than expected! As Fast Girls is just out at the cinema, it hasn't got a review yet on IMDb and I was unsure whether to see it, as I usually only see a film that is 7 or above. I think that this film is well worth at least an 8! Comedy, the Olympics and a little bit of romance... what more could you want?
This film really gave me the impression that the creators really didn't
know that much about athletics and just made this purely to cash in on
the UK's Olympic hype.
Fist of all it's implied that the main character is relatively unknown in athletics and springs out of nowhere to become part of the team GB World Championship athletics team. Yeah, that's not really how it works, if she was already getting times that were good enough to be in the running for a team GB place, people would have known about her. She would already have competed in many national competitions and made a name for herself before qualifying for Great Britain.
Also the fact that they go on a night out and drink alcohol literally the night before an international competition doesn't make much sense. If that was how the GB team operated in real life, I'd be very worried, therefore it's obviously just a plot device put in place to create conflict failing to reflect any sort of reality.
However those are just little gripes. What really brought this film down was the clichéd plot points. We've got the arguments in the team which threaten to stop them winning, the forced romance which breaks down due to a misunderstanding and character arcs like the main character not working well in teams and the rich girl whose father does away with her if she doesn't win. These have all been done before, are executed poorly in this film and lack any depth as we know full well what will happen the moment we see them.
They could have included an interesting plot point which connects to athletics, such as the main character being offered performance enhancing drugs or maybe delving deeper into how the main character got into running. But no, you could pretty much put this film's storyline into any sports movie and it would still work. Well, I say work, what I mean is produce the same forced and bland garbage that these kind of films have developed into over the years.
All in all, the characters have no chemistry, the film is detached from reality and the plot points are very predictable.
Do I really need to tell you what happens in the end? Didn't think so.
This 91 minutes Chariots of Fire wannabe rises above its obvious cinema
'warts' and wins a gold for fun, fast entertainment. The fictional
drama of a struggling UK relay team approaching a world championship
race offers realistic action and lots of cliché drama. Elements of
Chariots of Fire and Rocky abound and yet the cast, young, energetic
and obviously devoted to the project create the necessary realism on
the field if not off.
Shania seeks to escape the trappings of her ghetto London neighborhood although the race card can not be played when three of the four team members are black. This brings us to the ever lovely California blond looking Lisa. Lisa is refreshing, rich and nasty. The latter no doubt related to her over bearing, domineering father, himself an ex-medal winner and very well played by veteran actor Rupert Graves.
The film keeps us close to the real action, running! The final race score, Starlight by Matt Cardle (see the YouTube music videos) was spot on and a perfect match for the haunting action. The mix of slow motion, action and one nice overhead shot enhanced the final key scene. Will the girl from the wrong side of the tracks grab the gold ring? If you want to see the films much higher ratings check out its 82% critics and 65% audience at Rotten Tomatoes. This entertaining feel good sports movie deserves a wide audience. Give it a shot. Most likely you will be glad you did. Aside from all else be sure to watch and enjoy the final world championship race!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Co-written by Noel Clarke Fast Girls is a female lead sport films that
follows all the clichés and conventions associated with the genre.
Starring Lenora Crichlow as tough girl Shania Andrews, a runner from a
tough area of London who gets a chance for glory on the international
athletics circuit and her middle-class rival Lisa Temple (Lily James)
who share a mutual dislike for each other. Even worst for the two is
have to run together in the British relay team at the international
championships and have to overcome their differences to succeed.
Running (pun unintended) at a brisk 90 minutes Fast Girls leaves no stone unturned in the myriad of clichés it encounters on its journey, Shania getting corrupted before a big meet and underperforming because of it, misunderstandings between the team, a lead character quitting before having to come back and a disastrous performances before success at the final. It is truly paint-by-numbers screen writing, a Mad Libs versions of the script where people can just feel the gaps. You will just sit through the film bored because it is so predictable.
It is the first film to be directed by Regan Hall and his direction is very bland. There is no invention to the film, the sports scenes are just shot in slo-mo to try and add excitement and it he clean he was working on a very low budget. He does not show much potential at this moment in time.
The best aspect of the film is the acting, getting talent like Crichlow and the glorious Lily James to lead the film. Crichlow was been a competent performer on TV and she provides the goods. James had the most interesting character, being made out to be a villain yet given some depth because she is living in the shadow of her father, a champion athlete who forces her to become a runner, uses his position to ensure she gets preferential treatment, disliked by her teammates and feels she has to win to please her daddy. She could have been the main character of the film and it would have been more interesting to have it from a middle-class perspective.
Fast Girls was made cash in for the 2012 London Olympics and it shows, being a cheap production that wants to tell the most unoriginal film possible. It was a film that earned plenty of 3 star reviews in the UK but it deserves to fall into obscurity.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Black working class East London girl Shania qualifies for the British
200 metre squad and is put forward for the women's 4 x 100m relay team.
However, also on the team is posh white Lisa whose dad is a wealthy
former athlete who has influence within the athletic establishment. And
Lisa takes an instant dislike to Shania...
Fast Girls is essentially Rocky with British girls in running shoes against a backdrop of soap opera bitchiness. But, for all that, it's not bad. The characters are all reasonably well drawn and nicely played, the soap opera antics are well within the realms of believability, the film is nicely photographed and, of course, the races genuinely get hold of you and nearly have you out of your seat cheering the girls on. I'm not a sports fan, and why should I care about fictitious races? But I did.
I could have done without the music on the soundtrack, but I recognise that this is an attraction for a good part of the target audience and, for me, it was only a minor distraction.
I enjoyed this film much more than I expected to.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
OK film, that follows a young dedicated black sprint racer as she
battles to escape her council estate and become the best in the world.
The lead character has no support from any of her friends or immediate
family and is also homeless sleeping on couches.
Her hardship has to be taken with a pinch of salt, because she appears fit and fed. The only help she receives is from an amateur coach who gives up his early mornings training her on a track that has seen better days with no proper facilities. The aim is to hit a consistent running time of under 23 seconds to qualify for the World Championships being held in London 2011.
This aim brings her into conflict with the current UK champion and her father who is high up in the athletics association and will manipulate events for his daughter to always have the upper hand.
The story covers familiar ground seen in most sports movies, and pushes home the concept that the only thing holding an individual back is how they deal with adversity and what they can do to break the cycle of their lives. The film deals with race and points the finger of fault at everybody ie if you come from a ghetto you can escape it with a little effort.
The film is an enjoyable 100 minutes and the viewer does still root for the lead to achieve her goal no matter how self destructive she is. Its an attractive looking film, and does not claim to be a social documentary.
With the London Olympics fast approaching, what better way to cash in
on the mood with a film about Female Athletics....that doesn't mention
the Olympics at all or make any references to London. Nevertheless, the
story is enjoyable, depicting a group of athletes trying to win relay
success at the ''world championships'' despite having barely any
practice, getting drunk before races and generally arguing with each
other. Classic British spirit there.
Our main characters Shania and Lisa, come from different backgrounds, Shania is working-class (we know this, as she claims she's never even been on a plane before!) whilst Lily is posh and supported by her family. Ignoring the fact that this is basically Bend It Like Beckham 2, the story works like a soap, at times it felt like an Olympic special of Eastenders, even featuring the actress who played ''Chelsea'' in the soap. There's drama, affairs and fights, alongside the minor issue of the actual Athletics.
Written by Noel Clarke (Kidulthood/Adulthood creator), the film is very fast paced, and has that ''urban'' soundtrack to please teenagers. It essentially does what it says on the tin and you will find yourself caring about who wins the big race at the end!
First of all let me say that this review probably won't portray this
film particularly fairly. I should never have watched it to begin with.
Fast Girls is clearly aimed at the younger generations - probably from
age 10-17. For they will never have seen much like it before and enjoy
the characters and soundtrack (mainly hip hop - I believe, but then
again, I probably couldn't recognise hip hop if it hopped up and down
on my head).
Fast Girls is about a poor girl from a run down area of London who just happens to be exceptionally fast. Therefore she qualifies for the British athletics team and goes away to train with them. However, there's a spoilt, blonde rich girl who got an A* in bitchiness for her GCSEs and loves nothing more than running down (no pun intended) anyone she perceives as poor, faster than her or from a run-down area of London - ooh-er, there could be friction here.
So, our poor, fast heroine from a run-down part of London must prove herself both socially and on the track. Not to mention become friends with the bitchy rich blonde girl. Do you think they manage to live happily ever after? Well, that depends on whether you've ever watched a film before. Only children may wonder whether it's all going to end smelling of roses.
Fast Girls is marketed as a 'feel good' film. I suppose it is. It (coincidentally!) came out around the same time as the London 2012 Olympics and does its best to cash-in on the general sporty mood of the nation.
In short. I hated this film. It's packed full of clichés and it's not even funny. But then I seriously doubt that I was ever the intended audience. I should probably chalk it up to a lesson on checking out a film before I watch it to make sure that it's more something I'd enjoy.
However, like I say, for the younger (less cynical) generations, it's probably got everything they could ever want - strong female role models, a love story and great (if you like that sort of thing) music to accompany it.
4/10 from me.
8/10 for anyone under 17 (I am now officially speaking on behalf of the youth of today!)
It is a lot of years now since I was last in a "proper" nightclub but I
do remember my years working in work and feeling part of the places in
a way that my mid-30's self really doesn't now. Anyway, at their best a
club is loud with appropriate music (maybe not great music, but music
that works in that context) and it creates a sense of feeling good and
shared enjoyment that is quite a thing people look good, nobody is
self-conscious about their terrible dancing and generally people are
enjoying themselves despite the fact that the night will probably not
leave them with too much beyond the moment.
So, why am I talking about this? Well to me this film reminded me of that experience, even more so given that the spirit of the Olympics was still resonating around the UK. The film follows an athlete who is from the wrong side of the tracks and has limited resources but yet manages to make it onto the Great Britain team; challenges come in the personal and professional type, but can she overcome? Well of course the answer is pretty obvious and so goes the film because this is a product that is marketed to clearly hit a vein of Olympics fever. As a film it is pretty basic; I'm pretty sure that if you sped up all the slow-mo bits that it would run to 60 minutes, not 90, and that if you took out all the scenes that had recent UK pop music over it then it would probably be only half that again. However, it still works for what it is a "of its time" feel good movie.
The film mostly focuses on low level set pieces, whether they be heavily sound tracked racing action or just generic social drama background it is all filmed the same way; superficially and without heart. Indeed this is the core of the film heartless and superficial; the characters don't ever appear as people, the scenarios are never fleshed out beyond the level of wallpaper and the film itself is keen to exist on this very simple level. In this regard it is of course weak it never draws the viewer in but what it does do is provide simple stimuli in the construction. As a result the race is still engaging, the plot is still simply effective and it works. The cast are part of this as they play natural despite their paper thin characters and motivations. Crichlow leads the cast well when the script gives her a little bit to work with she does it well, otherwise she is solid enough to carry it. James is not as good a problem since she carries the weight for the tension; she doesn't convince and neither does that element of the plot. The supporting cast are generic but Graves, Benjamin, Burroughs and others do the job well enough for this. Clarke gets his face in again while Bradley James is good-looking at least.
Overall this film works as a simple crowd-pleaser but this is not to suggest that it has any merit beyond the superficial, because it doesn't. The soundtrack is as important as the cast and, while they do a decent job, the script never does more than provide wallpaper to the style and "feel" of the film. It does still work in the way that an ugly person looks good in the drunken euphoria of a nightclub but, while it is fun in the moment, you don't want to be waking up next to this film.
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