Review by Sean Boelman
There are sports movies about pretty much any sport you could think of, including, apparently, speed stacking. Yet while Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit’s Fast & Feel Love promises to be the most absurd sports movie ever made, it’s actually an unexpectedly poignant and heartfelt coming-of-age story.
The film follows a world champion cup stacker who is dumped by his longtime girlfriend in the lead-up to a life-changing tournament, forcing him to learn to take care of himself quickly or lose out on the opportunity of a lifetime. On one hand, the character’s arc feels generic, but the cup stacking twist gives it an entirely new direction that feels extremely creative.
Like many Asian comedies, the movie does run on for about twenty minutes too long. There are some recurring gags and repeated emotional beats that could have been cut to tighten up the narrative a bit. Still, the wholesome, goofy sense of humor is infectious and goes a long way in making the film work.
Beneath all of the sports comedy, there is a genuinely poignant movie here about growing up and growing old. We all like to hold onto the remnants of our youth in one way or another, and it manifests in different ways with each person. The most effective parts of this film are those which explore the protagonist and his love interest coping with growing older.
It is shocking how good the character development in the movie is. After all, who cares about a literal manchild stacking cups, right? But Thamrongrattanarit treats his characters with so much empathy despite their inherent absurdity that one can’t help but feel invested in the film as if it was a genuine underdog story.
Nat Kitcharit’s performance is certainly very charming. He plays a character that is very immature in nature, but he never approaches the role in a way that feels infantile or condescending. In other words, it never feels as if we are laughing at the protagonist, but with him.
There are certainly some portions of the movie that look a bit generic in their attempt to parody or pay homage to the tropes of sports movies, but these can be forgiven because of their purpose. The most impressive part of the film’s execution is how exciting Thamrongrattanarit manages to make the sport of cup stacking look despite the cups… er, cards being stacked against it.
Fast & Feel Love could have been a ridiculous little comedy, but what we got was a movie that is much more poignant and profound. Don’t be discouraged by the fact that the film is about cup stacking — this is something legitimately special.
Fast & Feel Love screened at the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival, which runs July 13 through August 3.