Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a powerhouse – a stunning actress who should be a household name at this point due to her magnificent work in Belle, Beyond the Lights, and Black Mirror’s buzziest episode, “San Junipero.” Her presence is commanding, and in Julia Hart’s arthouse superhero film Fast Color she’s a beacon to behold.
Mbatha-Raw stars as Ruth, a young woman who is on the run, leaving a trail of seizure-induced earthquakes behind her. To the government, she’s a potential threat to the planet, a woman so strong she can shift the tectonic plates beneath her. It’s an ability that should bring a heightened intensity to the feature, but Hart’s film has more in common with the slow-burning sci-fi feature Midnight Special than the heart-pounding Logan.
It’s a blessing and a curse. Fast Color takes its time, which leads to a second act that drags when Ruth is reunited with her mother Bo (Lorraine Toussaint) and daughter Lila (Saniyya Sidney). It’s a chunk of the film that should feel more magical than it does, as Ruth works with Lila to improve her remarkable abilities, but the sense of urgency is absent.
When Fast Color finally finds its footing in the third act, it takes off, and the layers of history shared between these three generations of black women is felt in full force. It’s this magnetic payoff that makes this otherwise sleepy film worthwhile.
Narrative Spotlight, World Premiere
Monday, March 12, 8pm, Alamo Lamar A
Friday, March 16, 4:45pm, Alamo Lamar A
Copyright © 2023 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.