**Light Spoilers Below
Fast Color (dir. Julia Hart, 2019) begins in the middle of a climate change apocalypse. The land is in perpetual drought, and water bills at luxury prices.
There’s plenty to fear when the world is drying up, but Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is mostly afraid of herself. The tremors in her body cause earthquakes, so she stays on the run to protect people — landing in rural places where she won’t cause as much infrastructural damage.
Fast Color is a movie that considers how human bodies can cause and contain environmental change. It’s a supernatural refutation of the ‘man versus nature’ fallacy. Humans have never been separate from nature, it says. Humans are nature. In Color, Ruth is the glaring frontier of this lesson.
Ruth is the land. She’s hungry, she’s thirsty, and she seems like she hasn’t had a good time in a long time. She walks from place to place on foot, reliving moments of her past when different sights remind her of it.
When Ruth returns to her childhood home, we meet Bo (Lorraine Toussaint) — her mother. Bo’s powers are much tamer than her daughter’s, so the unexpected stress of Ruth’s wild tremors soured their relationship — pushing them apart. Bo made a more peaceful life with Ruth’s daughter, Lila (Saniyya Sidney), who has a talent for mechanics.
At the start of the film, a bursting pipe transposed the moment when Ruth’s water broke. With that image, the film expressed its intention to connect the ruptures of human relationships to our treatment of the earth, and it does so curiously. Color tells us that people who are ‘different’ are also powerful, and that neglecting their needs ends in all of our suffering. It also tells us that any change to the earth (birth and death) has rippling effects.
Some of Color’s big reveals have odd timing, but I think it’s worth watching. It takes itself seriously (it can be read as a feminist response to the anthropocene), but it has a serene aftertaste.