Fast & Feel Love is a Thai adulting comedy that is both fascinating and frustrating, whilst also featuring a show-stealing performance from Urassaya Sperbund.
When Jay (Urassaya Sperbund) met Kao (Nat Kitcharit) in high school, he was an aspiring sports stacker. Also known as cup stacking or speed stacking, it is a sport so niche that the school’s career advisor told Kao to drop it. Nevertheless, many years later, he has become very good at sports stacking, and Jay has become his romantic partner. She uses her special ability of kindness to support Kao, removing any distractions so he can find the milliseconds necessary for him to break the world record. But although the couple is currently happy, events are about to strain their relationship.
When the two bought their spacious home together, it featured a kid’s bedroom that Kao viewed as just a spare room. But Jay wants children, and that dream is starting to conflict with Kao’s stacking ambitions. Furthermore, the world sports stacking championships are offering this year’s winner the chance to go to America. Whilst this excites Kao, Jay doesn’t want to go. So, she leaves him. As a result, Kao’s performance is starting to tank, culminating in his world record being smashed by a ten-year-old boy from Colombia. With weeks to go before the official competition, Kao must now do something that hasn’t bothered him until now: learn how to do the chores.
From writer-director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, Fast & Feel Love is a Thai comedy that is sure to be a crowd pleaser by the end of its time at LFF. The film is like a spoof on the modern action blockbuster, bolstered by Thamrongrattanarit borrowing elements from Christopher Nolan, the Fast & Furious series and serious action thrillers. The score from Mellow Tunes (a music company based in Bangkok) feels like it is in on the joke, sounding very grandiose and Hans Zimmer-like. And the film is full of pop culture references and other cine-literate influences. Some are obvious, like the parody of Parasite. Others are perhaps less intentional – one subplot sees Kao and Jay fight over the house, which reminded me of Danny DeVito’s The War of the Roses (1989).
Additional techniques include quick cuts and jarring shifts (which provide most of the film’s humour), contrasting narration from Kao and Jay and some extremely meta moments – such as characters noting when they can hear the narration from our two leads. Surprisingly, the element that stands out the most is the performance by Thai-Norwegian actress Urassaya Sperbund as Jay. Watching the film, you are drawn to her charismatic and at times melancholic turn, with the latter emotion tying into Jay’s desire to become a mother. Playing a character who does absolutely everything for Kao, Sperbund carries the film at certain points.
At the halfway point of Fast & Feel Love, Kao breaks the fourth wall to ask if this is a sports stacking movie. The truth is that it isn’t really, which will disappoint some. Nor is it a rom-com, as the bittersweet and somewhat unsatisfying end proves. Instead, Fast & Feel Love is a film about growing up, ‘adulting’ and learning real-world responsibilities. Kao begins the film oblivious and spoiled, unable to bear any minor distraction when stacking. But at the same time, he is entirely reliant on Jay. So naturally, Kao struggles without her and must quickly figure out how to cope with everyday tasks – washing dishes, doing the laundry and buying non-cow’s milk from the supermarket. It makes sense that this makes up a large chunk of the film. However, with a two-hour runtime, they become tiresome after a while.
That is where my problems with Fast & Feel Love begin. The plot doesn’t progress much in the second half, as Kao deals with the ‘drama’ that prohibits him from being at his speedy best. The film is good when it becomes a sports film in the final third (complete with training montages), but Thamrongrattanarit’s script doesn’t sell Kao’s big push towards the world championships. And the film really wants to emphasise that Jay is running out of time to have a child. Whilst it ties into the theme of motherhood and the clash of priorities for her and Kao, it is so on the nose that the film feels a little mean-spirited whenever it returns to that subplot. It doesn’t help that the film ends with that thread unresolved.
A comedy film more about growing up than stacking cups, Fast & Feel Love is simultaneously fascinating and frustrating. Its humour and film references will please audiences, and there is much to like about the film. Conversely, there is a lot crammed in, to the point where it feels overstuffed and slightly unfocused. I would still recommend Fast & Feel Love. It is a fun movie, capturing the essence of an action blockbuster and managing to stay straight-faced in its sillier moments. But if you want a great spoof film from 2022 with themes related to the real world, check out Cop Secret instead.
Fast & Feel Love premiered at the 2022 BFI London Film Festival on October 14, 2022. Read our list of films to watch at the London Film Festival this year.