In the midst of a near possible future where water costs $50 a gallon, a young woman is on the run while struggling to manage the devastating effects of her supernatural ability, one that she barely understands. Fast Color came out in 2018 and features Ruth (portrayed by Gugu Mbatha-Raw), Ruth’s mom: Bo (Lorraine Toussaint, known for her role in Orange is the New Black), and Ruth’s daughter Lila (Saniyya Sidney, a young actress starring in The Passage).
Fast Color centers around Ruth and her struggles to understand and control her devastating supernatural abilities. On the run from a mysterious government organization, Ruth stays in a motel and buys a half-gallon of water for $25. As night approaches, Ruth panics as she begins to have a seizure, shortly followed by a large earthquake. By the time the cops show up, all that's left is an empty room and an open window. On the run again, Ruth seeks asylum with her mom, who lives in an isolated house that seems to be in the rural mid-west. The first time we see Ruth's mother, Bo, she smokes a cigarette. As she takes her first drag, the cigarette slowly begins to disintegrate into thousands of particles, swirling and dancing in the air, before reforming perfectly between Bo's fingers. There is tension as Ruth approaches and begins a conversation, alluding to a past falling-out. Bo is hesitant to let Ruth stay because a young girl lives with Bo, and she knows that Ruth has a dangerous, uncontrollable ability. Despite this, Bo allows Ruth to stay in the small nearby barn.
As the credits roll, I wonder what to take away from the movie. Are the supernatural abilities a metaphor for mental illness and coping mechanisms? Is it about the importance of family? Or maybe it’s about how women (especially black women) are so valuable to a society that so often overlooks and ignores them. Admittedly, I looked that last one up, but the point is that you can take away many different messages from the film, all-important, and all depending on your background.
In today’s political environment, I like that the movie stars three generations of black women where race is not a relevant part of the story. That’s not to say movies about race aren’t important, but I feel that this movie helps normalize main characters that are not white and not men. The movie quite literally features “black girl magic.”
While the movie didn't do great at the box office, Amazon is currently producing a TV series based on this movie that will explore every facet of the film in greater detail.
While I was left asking questions about the rules laid out in the world of the movie, Fast Color is a neat, emotional film that has some breathtaking visual effects. I had fun watching it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys mildly-deep artistic films that prefer to show, rather than tell. I give it a solid 7/10, and you can watch it on Hulu.