Some great movies tell a good story or let you escape your reality for a short while, but few make you believe in magic again. Fast Color does all of these things.
Though the plot of Fast Color is secondary to the feelings it evokes, it’s worth putting a little context around the discussion of the film. It takes place in either the very near future or a parallel timeline to ours where there is no rain. Water is a precious resource and much of society’s day-to-day mundanities are now shaped by not having working toilets or dishwashers. Lest you think this makes Fast Color in any way related to Tank Girl, this world is just an adapting version of our own and not a surrealist nightmare.
Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is on the run. When we first see her, she’s emerging from a massive warehouse with ropes around her wrists. She steals a car and hits the road, eventually checking into a motel that accepts just cash. Ruth is calm and smart, but also kind. Soon after her arrival at the motel, a tremor starts in her hand, and after warning the innkeeper, a massive earthquake hits the town. All of these details point toward Ruth being far more complicated than just a young woman on the run.
Ruth eventually finds her way back home to her mother’s farmhouse and the real journey of Fast Color begins. Their long family history begins to emerge, and it’s apparent that not only is Ruth not alone, but the secrets in their family run deep.
Unlike so many other movies, Fast Color lets characters be quiet and it lets them be alone. All three main characters are given their own scenes to just be by themselves. We get to learn their secrets, but best of all, we get to see the world through their eyes. These are strong and complicated women, and getting to exist with them as they’re just living their lives gives the characters and their arcs the weight and integrity they deserve.
Along with that are some breathtaking cinematography of the American Southwest and an unexpected but perfectly appropriate electronic and orchestral score. Positively brilliant acting, whimsical visual effects, and an original story make for a truly unique cinematic experience. Some understandable comparisons may be made to 2015’s Midnight Special, and the two movies would make for an interesting double feature, but the female-centric powerhouse plot of Fast Color sets it apart from any other casually related films.
Admittedly, the finale teeters on the edge of being too melodramatic for my personal taste, but given the characters’ journeys up to that moment, I’m willing to give it a pass. Even with that scene, I can honestly say that Fast Color made me believe in magic again. The magic of strong female bonds. The magic of the wonder of world. And best of all, the magic of movies.