Competitive speed stacking — a sport that involves stacking specially designed cups in predetermined sequences as quickly as possible — is the eccentric pastime at the heart of Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit‘s equally eccentric rom-com/sports film, Fast & Feel Love. The title is a riff on The Fast & The Furious, even aping the familiar typesetting of those movies in the film’s opening titles. Among the many other things this movie does in its overwhelming eagerness to please is make frequent parodic references to Hollywood action blockbuster franchises, most notably The Avengers and Taken. The breathless, frantic energy with which it does so is largely the source of this film’s considerable charm.
It opens with a montage of various high school students’ interactions with a rather dour and severe career counselor who casually shoots down their seemingly unrealistic dreams for their future. The last of these students is Kao (Nat Kitcharit), who speaks of his intentions to become a speed stacking champion. Unlike the other students, he refuses to let the counselor’s negativity dissuade him from his goal. Kao’s determination earns him the admiration of classmate Jay (Urassaya Sperbund), a young woman who seems to lack life goals of her own. With the same rapidity with which everything else happens in this film, they begin a relationship and become domestic partners; Jay takes care of all responsibilities and necessary mundane life tasks so that nothing stands in the way of Kao’s monomaniacal obsession to break the world record in speed stacking. Amusingly, his stiffest competition comes from much younger children; the videos they post online drive Kao to spend increasingly long and feverish sessions in his cup stacking practice room to attempt to beat their times.
As the years pass, this arrangement becomes unsustainable; Jay’s growing desire to have an actual family clashes with Kao’s speed stacking goals, and she ends up leaving him. Utterly useless at performing even the most basic domestic tasks without Jay, Kao has to hire a whole staff to fulfill the duties that Jay took care of, including a housemaid introduced with a throwaway gag parodying Parasite. All the while, Kao tries to figure out a way to win Jay back.
The fast-paced comedy eventually gives way to a more poignant depiction of how couples can eventually grow apart as they age and mature into more fully-developed individuals. The large cast, including the two de-glammed yet still very attractive leads, are fully up to the task of matching the scenario’s extremely lively perpetual motion. At a length of well past two hours, the seemingly inexhaustible energy can prove a bit exhausting, but this film’s wonderfully heartfelt nature is ultimately successful at overcoming this minor quibble.
Published as part of NYAFF 2022 — Dispatch 2.