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Fast Girls (certificate 12)

reviewed by George Luke
Starring: Lenora Critchlow, Lily James, Bradley James, Noel Clarke

Released in time to capitalise on Olympic fever, this feel-good urban drama is bound to attract comparisons to Chariots of Fire. But Fast Girls is probably closer in spirit to Bend It Like Beckham than it is to Christian culture's favourite sporting film.

Shania (Lenora Critchlow from BBC 3's Being Human) lives on a council estate with her aunt. When she isn't acting as peacemaker for her sister's frequent domestics with her “waste man” boyfriend, Shania can be found practising her running with the help of her shopkeeper friend Brian (Phil Davis) and his pet dog Linford. Shania's talent as a sprinter earns her a spot representing Britain at a major athletics tournament – much to the disgust of middle-class Lisa (Lily James). It's up to their long-suffering coach Tommy (played by Noel Clarke, who also co-wrote the script) to get the two rivals to put their differences aside and work together as a team.

Fast Girls is very inspiring and has a lot of running in it, but that's as far as the similarities to Chariots go. There are no overt religious references in the film as there were in Chariots. Nevertheless, it does have a lot to say that is of value to people of faith – mostly around family issues.

Time and time again, we see Shania being let down by the only family she has (well, mostly by her sister), but we also see her willingness to forgive when that happens. At the same time, we see Lisa caught between an overly ambitious father and a mother who loves her regardless of whether or not she wins any medals.

The film also does a good job of reminding us about the importance of hard work, of valuing friendships, and iron sharpening iron (usually with sparks flying!). Although the lead characters are all young women, the film itself can hardly be described as girly. As a side note, fans of late 90s Christian dance-pop music might be interested to know that Shaz Sparks and Robbie Bronimann (otherwise known as Hydro and/or dBA) contributed a song to the film's soundtrack.

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