Finally available in the UK to Netflix subscribers, “Fast Color”, a quiet and low-key exploration of the super-hero genre, has more in common with “Midnight Special” than “Man Of Steel” and if it’s superpower punch-ups and fast-paced action then you won’t find them here.
Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) lives life on the road, wandering the American Midwest of a desolate future where rainfall is a thing of the past and water is a precious commodity. Suffering from seizures which seem to cause supernatural earthquakes, she moves from place to place never settling for long in case her curious affliction draws attention or causes harm. But when she narrowly evades capture by a government agent, she’s forced to return home and confront the life she left behind.
Despite its relatively brief running time, “Fast Color” leaves much of its world and history underdeveloped but its slightly underbaked execution is carried by a fantastic lead performance from its star, Gugu Mbatha-Raw. There are tantalising glimpses of a world wider than the one our characters inhabit and by concentrating on three generations of the same family, who are all blessed (or cursed) with some kind of special ability, the film plays to its strengths which is in its characters and performances. The nature of their powers isn’t explained with any great clarity nor is the cause of the eight-year drought which has devastated the area so it’s hardly a surprise that there is currently a streaming show in development based on this film and aiming to expand the world.
It’s a story of family reconciliation, sacrifice and embracing your own power and while it has definite feminist undertones, it’s no arch polemic, preferring to tell a contemplative story of mothers and daughters. Soothing, uplifting and thought-provoking, it’s a small-scale triumph of performance and ideas which treats its audience like grown-ups and rewards them with a mature and introspective reimagining of the trashy teen angst of “The Darkest Minds”.