Fast Girls

 

Directed by Regan Hall. Starring Lenora Crichlow, Lily James, Lorraine Burroughs, Dominique Tipper, Lashana Lynch, Bradley James, Noel Clarke, Rupert Graves 91mins, general release, Cert 12A

HMMM. THE MAKERS of Fast Girls are likely hoping that international viewers will see past the movie’s promiscuous use of Union Jack waving to focus, instead, on a tale of plucky sporting underdogs.

To which we say: Warning: May Contain Scenes of Union Jack Waving.

Not to be outwitted, a slick screenplay written by Noel Clarke (Kidulthood, 4321), sticks to the reliable, catchy format favoured by the dance-off flick. To watch Fast Girls is to think like Step Up 2 or possibly Step Up 3.

Being Human’s Lenora Crichlow is Shania, a talented sprinter from the less salubrious side of town, who, early in the film, gets served by blonde daddy’s girl Lisa (Lily James). The rivals must, in time, form an unlikely alliance as part of the GB relay team, a crew headed up by exasperated coach Tommy (Clarke) and boyband-pretty Dr Carl (James).

Many innits?, several training montages and one ill-timed walk-out later and Team GB’s stroppiest athletes are ready for the hip-hop championships. Or possibly the track. Whatever.

We’ve welcomed Queen Elizabeth to our finest republican hotspots. We voted for Englebert Humperdinck’s Eurovision entry when no one else would. Now, will Irish audiences jump to their feet for Team GB at the London Olympics?

Maybe not. And yet it’s impossible not to derive pleasure from this neat sports soap. Crichlow and her co-stars make for lovely company and persuasive performers: their characters are Grange Hill shallow and, equally, Grange Hill compelling. Men are commendably absent or downplayed in the girls’ interests and aspirations. Never mind the romantic subplots and never mind the grime. This feel-good fairy story takes in life on a council estate without ever getting its hands properly dirty. The punch the air imperative is jollied along by speedy vérité from commercials sector graduate, Regan Hall. There’s even a wardrobe transformation scene featuring trainers and shorts where one usually finds heels and hatboxes.

Go, Fake Team GB: the hip-hop danceathon final beckons.