Fast Color Parent Guide
Fast Color boasts an unpredictable plot, consistent tension, strong performances, and interesting questions.
Parent Movie Review
“If something’s broken, it stays broken.” Despite their formidable powers, this adage is accepted as fact by Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), her mother Bo ( Lorraine Toussaint), and her daughter Lila (Sanniya Sidney). The grandmother and granddaughter can unmake and remake things but cannot magically repair them if they were already damaged. Ruth, whose unusual abilities cause seizures that trigger earthquakes, is convinced that she is broken in ways that can never be healed.
Fearing her destructive powers, Ruth has been on the run, numbing herself with drugs. Sober at last, Ruth is now being tracked by government agents interested in her feared gifts. With nowhere else to turn, Ruth returns to the one place she feels safe…
Fast Color is a mesmerizing film. Sadly, it was not picked up by a major distributor, which led to a very limited theatrical release. And that’s a pity. The movie does have a few flaws – an annoying soundtrack; a director with a sometimes heavy touch – but overall it’s a solid production. I particularly appreciate its unpredictability. As a film critic, I watch dozens of movies every year and get tired of forecasting plot developments thirty minutes ahead of time. With this show, I had no idea where the plot was going to end up. This is such a boon to the story, amplifying its unremitting tension. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire film, wondering what was coming next for these women.
Audiences will definitely care for Ruth, Bo, and Lila, thanks to solid writing and some excellent acting. Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s vulnerable portrayal of the damaged Ruth is devastatingly poignant. Lorraine Toussaint is flawless as the wary, vigilant grandmother, steeled by her past experiences and determined to protect her daughter and granddaughter. Special mention also goes to Saniyya Sidney who brings both toughness and charm to her young Lila. These three African-American women ably project the power that is transmitted from mother to daughter down generations. And their pride in themselves and their heritage gives them strength to stand against those who would try to limit or control their abilities. This leads to the most interesting subtext of the film – a world of white men who are determined to control the power of black women. Fast Color is not a race-based film and does not stereotype white characters (some are very sympathetic) but it definitely calls on viewers to think about the strength that black women bring to the work of healing a damaged world.
Parents will be relieved to know that Fast Color comes with only moderate content issues. There are 11 uses of profanity and two scenes involving smoking. The movie also has some plot-related violence, but none of it is graphic or egregious. The real violence in the film is perpetrated on a social level, against those who are perceived as different and dangerous. And that raises questions that those of us in a non-magical world need to consider with honesty, humility, and generosity.Directed by Julia Hart. Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lorraine Toussaint, Saniyya Sidney, David Strathairn. Running time: 100 minutes. Theatrical release July 4, 2020. Updated February 8, 2020
Watch the trailer for Fast Color
Rating & Content Info
Why is Fast Color rated PG-13? Fast Color is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for a scene of violence and brief strong language
Violence: A main character is shown cutting ropes off her wrists; they are raw and as she washes them, blood flows in the sink. A main character steals a car. A man detains a woman in a car and tries to forcibly inject her with an unknown drug; she shoots him in the hand. A woman kicks a man and jumps out a car window. An injured man is shown with blood dripping from his coat on to the floor. A woman has seizures which trigger earthquakes. A mother is shown tying her daughter to a bed during a seizure
Sexual Content: There is mention of pregnancies outside of marriage.
Profanity: There are 11 profanities in the film, most of which are scatological terms. There is one sexual expletive and a term of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A main character smokes cigarettes on a couple of occasions. There is mention of a main character’s past drug addiction.
Page last updated February 8, 2020
Fast Color Parents' Guide
Why does Bo keep such a tight rein on Lila? How has their family history shaped the way Bo sees the world? How does learning about her heritage help Ruth?
Are there events in your family’s past that shape how you respond to challenges? Do you know about the problems your ancestors had to overcome? What can you learn from them?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
There’s no shortage of good books about protagonists with power over nature.
In Tamora Pierce’s YA The Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens series, a young mage named Tris Chandler has the power to control the weather. Follow Tris’ adventures in Tris’s Book and Shatterglass.. Her fellow mage, Briar, can control plants, which is demonstrated in Briar’s Book and Street Magic. Both mages use their powers, along with their friends Sandry and Daja, in The Will of the Empress.
Shannon Hale’s Books of Bayern series features female protagonists who can talk to nature. Anidori can speak to birds and the wind, Enna can talk to fire, Dasha speaks to water, and Rin communicates with trees. Their tales are told in The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, River Secrets, and Forest Born.
Namesake by Kate Stradling tells the story of a young woman incapable of learning magic, until she falls backwards through time. As she masters magic, she also learns to control fire.
Naomi Novik’s young heroine, Agnieszka is taken as tribute to her region’s dragon. In Uprooted, Agnieszka learns that she has magic, and that it’s tied to nature. (Note: this novel contains some minor sexual content.)
Black protagonists take the lead in these tales of magic and power:
In Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, a young African-American girl is burdened with hyperempathy – an extreme sensitivity to the pain of others. When her family’s compound falls, she is forced into a dangerous and brutal world, where she finds what might be a way to save her planet.
Nigerian-American author Tomi Adeyemi created a young diviner and rogue prince who try to save magic in the world in Children of Blood and Bone.
Related home video titles:
In Weathering With You, a young girl learns that she’s a “Sunshine Girl” – she has the ability to temporarily pray away the rain. But that power comes at a heavy price.
A young African-American girl discovers that she has the power to control the thoughts of others in The Darkest Minds. Since children with gifts are imprisoned, she has to go on the run.
A climate expert is sent into space to adjust the satellites that control the world’s climate in Geostorm.
Interstellar also features a drought-stricken dying planet. But in this film, an astronaut makes a risky journey through space to find a safer planet for humans to settle.
A society divides everyone into specific factions based on their abilities in Divergent.