January 7, 2022 By Jonita Davis • Hello Barkada Guest Writer Series

Fast Color Needs Your Attention

Scores of people are discovering Codeblack's Fast Color on Netflix, nearly two years after it debuted in theaters in 2019. If the audience only knew then about its unique sci-fi timing, the relatable metaphors for Black womanhood, and its message of generational healing, it could’ve drawn crowds.


Fast Color is set in a pre-apocalyptic future and ends without a firm resolution. This is abnormal for modern sci-fi. Films like Knowing, a 2009 film by Nicholas Cage, and 1998’s Armageddon come close in story format. However, both of those films end with concrete resolutions. Fast Color leaves the audience wondering what happens.

In fact, the story isn’t meant to expose the world ending. The primary plot focus is the healing of a fractured family.


The movie begins with a lone Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) on the run from government men. Ruth struggles to make it home, which she had run away from years before but where she now seeks refuge and rest, neither of which she has experienced in years.


To find rest, no one can know her whereabouts. So, her mother Bo (Lorraine Toussaint) and her father Ellis (David Strathairn) must band together to hide Ruth. Bo must also stop pushing her daughter away, and she and Ellis must overcome their fear of loving each other.

Light-skinned Black woman with type 3C hair walking down a dirt road that cuts through a grass plain. The woman is walking towards the camera, yet looking beyond it. She is wearing an olive green bomber jacket on top of a light grey knit top.

GUGU MBATHA-RAW AS RUTH IN CODEBLACK'S FAST COLOR.

A dark-skinned Black woman sits left of a light-skinned black woman. They appear to be in the middle of a conversation with each other. The woman on the left wears thin-frame glasses, a grey-toned top, and a sand-toned linen smock. The woman on the right is wearing a mustard-colored chunky-knit pullover sweater.

L-R: LORRAINE TOUSSAINT AS BO & GUGU MBATHA-RAW IN CODEBLACK'S FAST COLOR.

Eventually, the three heal their family bond in time to help Ruth’s daughter Lila (Saniyya Sidney), who Bo raised in Ruth’s absence. Lila is about to run away like Ruth did years before, but doing so could set the family back in its goal to break a curse that has burdened them for generations.


It’s not just the curse commentary. Fast Color offers several metaphors for Black womanhood. For example, in one scene, Bo is standing in a small-town street, hands up, surrounded by white men with guns. She talks to Ruth to convince her to take Lila and leave.

THIS PART OF THE COMMENTARY INCLUDES SPOILERS. TO READ, TAP THE DOWN ARROW.

While she speaks, Bo dissolves every gun pointed at her, making the white men squirm without guns to control her. She then dissolves the doors that cage her granddaughter Lila. When Ellis steps up, Bo waves him back in an “I got this” motion. Once the kids are safe, she sacrifices herself.

This scene alone represents so much about the lives of Black women, from the way Bo thinks of everyone else first, removing barriers and dangers that threaten them, to how she handles it all while putting everyone on alert for the next moves. The entire film is filled with similar points that Black women will find relatable.


Ruth’s name even says something. While Ruth in the Bible was the most loyal person to her family, the Ruth of Fast Color ran away from hers. But how did the Ruth of the film finally control her power? By connecting with and relying on her family.


This film missed its box office moment due to bad PR, lackluster reviews, misleading promos, and a pithy budget. Despite that, Fast Color is an important film, rich in relatable themes. It’s a film that takes stress, exhaustion, anger, and generational curses and folds them into a tale about superpowers in a dying world.


Codeblack's Fast Color is now streaming on Netflix.

ABOUT THE GUEST WRITER


Jonita Davis is a film critic, writer, and pop culture junkie behind the online publication The Black C.A.P.E. Magazine (theblackcapemag.com, @theblackcapemag). She is also a freelance writer, a published author, English professor, and podcaster. She has a master’s degree in English (Literary Criticism Concentration) from Purdue University and has taught writing at Waubonsee Community College, Aurora University, and Purdue University.


Support Davis' work by:


IMAGES COURTESY OF LIONSGATE • TAGS: ART NEWS, ESSAYS

This commission for our Guest Writer Series is made possible by the contributions of our Barkada Backers.

Text in black says "You May Also Like" followed by a black line break.
Whte text says, "The Call Out: Reviews of Fast Color. Jonita Davis and Christine Pasalo Norland discuss reviews of the 2019 film Fast Color, Harold Perrineau's take on the reviews around his Epix series From, and EW's release-weekend coverage of Everything Everywhere All at Once." Text on a darkened photo collage of Christine Pasalo Norland and Jonita Davis taken from episode 1 of The Call Out.
White text says, "But Are You Listening to The Linda Lindas? How Growing Up, the debut LP by The Linda Lindas, is poised to resonate with fans of all ages." Text on a darkened 4-photo collage of The Linda Lindas album, including a photo of the Coke bottle vinyl record.