‘Fast Girls’ movie review

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Already nicknamed ‘Sprint it like Beckham’ in some quarters, this is one British feel-good film we can all rally around even if we don’t do well in the Olympics this summer.

Fast Girls tells the story of council estate no-hoper, Shania Andrews (Lenora Crichlow), whose only route out of her “Primark” existence is her natural talent as a sprinter. Ably supported by her coach Brian (a fantastically grumpy Phil Davis), she manages to qualify for the 200 metres World Championships.

Instead of training in a disused field, she gets to travel to the National Sports Centre, where she gets a new kit, coach, physiotherapist. Here we meet her arch rival from the trial, Lisa (Lily James); relay coach, Tommy (Noel Clarke); the motherly Trix (Lorraine Burroughs); and the physiotherapist/love interest, Carl (Bradley James); along with Lisa’s overly protective rich father, David (Sherlock’s Rupert Graves).

From here we get the traditional urban teen movie story arc of the rich girl not getting along with the poor girl from the estate, with constant conflict between the two lead girls. Shania is clearly faster than Lisa, but Lisa’s father is heavily involved in the British Athletic team, having won a gold Olympic medal himself before. After a disastrous showing at a trial in Barcelona, Shania quits the relay team amidst the ceaseless infighting with Lisa.

However, after a girl’s night out bonding and Trix’s unfortunate injury during the final championships, the pair are ultimately forced to work together to try and achieve the gold that they’ve been aspiring to all their lives.

The story might have been told many times before, but it’s how first time director Regan Hall takes us there which makes the film interesting, shooting the race scenes with real vigour, energy and dynamism. You’ll find yourself rooting for Shania as if it were actually this summer’s Olympics. In fact, dare we say it, the action here is probably going to be more exciting than the real thing. Hall makes great use of the London locations, although how they managed to run from a club down to the Old Vic tunnels is anyone’s guess.

The real star of the film is Lenora Crichlow, fresh from four series as ghost Annie in BBC Three’s Being Human, clearly showing her capability in anchoring a feature film. You feel for her every success or failure, her blood, sweat and tears.

Former Doctor Who companion Noel Clarke (who also co-wrote the film) and Secret Diary of a Call Girl’s Lily James give strong supporting performances, while Merlin star Bradley James adds more to his character than merely providing eye candy.

With a hugely uplifting feel-good ending, Fast Girls deserves to give the season’s action blockbusters a run for their money.

Released in UK cinemas on Friday 15th June 2012 by StudioCanal.

What did you think of Fast Girls? Let us know below…