Review: Sort-of superhero story 'Fast Color' moves slow

Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars in skewed superhero story from writer-director Julia Hart

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
Gugu Mbatha-Raw in "Fast Color."

Three generations of women wrestle with their supernatural abilities in "Fast Color," a slow burn deconstruction of a superhero movie that is a little too slow burn for it's own good. 

Gugu Mbatha-Raw is Ruth, a woman on the run — partially from herself — in a present-future wasteland where eight years have elapsed since the last rain, and water is jugged and sold at a premium in large containers sealed by rubber bands and rags. 

Ruth has the ability to create concentrated earthquakes, a power which makes her a wanted woman. She's tracked down by Bill (Christopher Denham), a government agent posing as a lonely traveler, and once she escapes him Ruth seeks solace at the remote country home of her mother, Bo (Lorraine Toussaint), who's caring for Ruth's daughter Lila (Saniyya Sidney).

MoreGugu Mbatha-Raw finds her true 'Color'

These three women, grandmother, mother and child, are the heart of "Fast Color," and they discuss and attempt to come to grips with the powers they've been given. "We're not superheroes," Ruth tells her daughter. "We're just trying to get by."

Co-writer and director Julia Hart — she authored the script with her husband, "La La Land" producer Jordan Horowitz — successfully builds a richly detailed world around her characters, and presents a skewed, grounded view of those with supernatural abilities that you won't find in today's Marvel and DC universes. 

But "Fast Color's" ruminative pacing is often dull, and the lack of conflict and suspense undercut the film's noble intentions and unique storytelling approach. "Fast Color" is not a superhero movie, it's just trying to get by, but it has trouble getting there. 

'Fast Color'


Rated PG-13: for a scene of violence and brief strong language

Running time: 100 minutes