A young dreamer, tired of his current lot in life, tries to use his music to break away from his environment. When he and his best friend are given the chance to change their lives he must make some tough decisions in director/writer Tiffany Harding’s drama Going Nowhere Fast.
There is a well-known phrase “We are a product of our environment” which means our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are shaped by the world around us; this includes family, friends, community, culture, and experiences. Our environment can influence our physical and mental health, our relationships, our career choices, and our overall sense of well-being. While our environment certainly plays a role in shaping who we are, what we need to understand is that, as individuals, we have the ability to choose how we respond to it. We can learn new things, change our behaviours, and create new experiences that can help to change the direction of our lives.
Going Nowhere Fast is a gritty little short film that takes a raw and unflinching look at the struggles of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are trying to break free from the cycle of bad habits and negative influences that surround them. Much like the films Rocky and 8 Mile, the film focuses on one main protagonist, Ray, (played by Ray Shulman) a young man from Oakland who is tired of living his current life in circles and wants to achieve more to help find his way out. When he and his best friend, Strictly (an energetic Joshua Holder) are given the opportunity to escape their troubled environment with a potential record deal, Strictly begins to revert back to his old ways. This leaves Ray with a decision to make, should he take control of his life or stay on a road going nowhere?
One of the strengths of Going Nowhere Fast is its use of rap artist Raymond “RX the Rapper” Shulman who plays a version of himself in the film and uses some of his own traumatic experiences as the foundation for the story. After losing his mother to an opiate overdose, Ray also battled addiction himself, and in wanting to depict the harsh realities of life on the streets and the struggles of those trying to escape their circumstances, he has managed to give writer/director Harding a lot of material to incorporate and combine with fictionalization. In doing so, she has created a script that has resulted in a story that may be heightened but also feels authentic and grounded in reality.
Despite some patchy acting and sound issues, the film is visually compelling, with interesting shot choices and a gritty, realistic aesthetic. Different lighting choices are also noticeable, helping to differentiate the scenes. The performances by Shulman and Jamal “Yung Freeway” Ross are particularly noteworthy, bringing a raw intensity to their roles. The strength of their portrayals gives us a sense of the difficult decisions young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have to make every day and the difficult circumstances that often stop them from breaking out from the firm grip of poverty. The soundtrack is particularly strong, full of music from unsigned hip-hop artists including Shulman himself, and this adds to the overall atmosphere and independent spirit of the film.
In the end, Going Nowhere Fast is a thought-provoking and sometimes emotional film that offers an interesting portrayal of the challenges faced by those who are trying to escape the cycle of poverty, addiction, and the violence that grinds them down. While not without its flaws, it is a decent entry for director Tiffany Harding and a compelling showcase for her talents and those of RX the Rapper and Yung Freeway.