Fast Girls is the UK film industries attempt to cash in on the London 2012 Olympics it is a simple movie, but it does what it does so well that it is easy to forgive its lack of ambition.
The film focuses on Shania Andrews played by Lenora Crichlow, a working class girl, living on a tough London estate, who dreams of making it big as a runner. She is trained at a run down, dilapidated track and is coached, from a shed, by Philip Davis’ Brian.
Set against Shania is Lisa Temple, rich, focused, given the best of everything and supported by her father, Rupert Graves as David, who also happens to be part of the national athletics authorities. Lily James as Lisa, plays the hard nosed, stuck-up poster girl perfectly and when both she and Shania qualify for the World Championships (IOC not giving their stamp of approval to the film not allowing it to be the Olympics) their different worlds and outlooks are set on a collision course, made worse when coach Tommy puts them together in the relay team.
Tommy is played by Noel Clarke, also part of the writing team and he combines his unique ability to write believable dialogue with a heartfelt performance to become the centre of this movie. Tiana Benjamin and Lorraine Burroughs complete the relay team and from here out the film follows a well trodden path. The girls clash, fall out, try and get each other kicked off the team, fail to qualify, get reinstated and find their faith in each other just in time for the final contest (normally there would be a spoiler warning before that much information, but this was all in the trailer). Other issues are thrown in to the mix, one of the team breaks their leg and Bradley James as coach Carl is romantically linked with the two lead girls.
With this many cliches and sports movie staples it would have been so easy for Fast Girls to become a cheesy, predictable affair; Clarke and director Regan Hall avoid this by keeping the pace of the story telling fast and using some innovative set pieces to break up the familiar narrative. Hall has also cast a strong ensemble who remain measured with no one hogging the limelight. It is mature performances across the board that give this movie a genuine heart.
Although Fast Girls is not going to win any medals it demonstrates that with care, attention, innovation and strong performances even the most obvious stories can still move, motivate and inspire us.