Get Set Go is a 2013 sports drama film written, produced and directed by Bennett Miller. It is a story that surrounds a fictionalised teenage girl who aspires to become a professional sprinter, despite having extreme attention deficiencies. It stars Georgie Henley, Pam Ferris, Chloe Grace Moretz, Asa Butterfield, Natalie Dorner, Ruth Wilson, Tom Felton and Jonathan Pryce.
The film was a box office success and received acclaim from critics for its score, screenplay, direction and the performances of Henley, Ferris and Butterfield. It went on to win ten of the fifteen it was nominated for.
Kylie runs home from her work at the Three Arches pub in Cardiff, and comes home just in time to see the conclusion of the Commonwealth Games sprinting with her guardian, and aunt, Sarah. Through dialogue, it is learned that her parents were killed in a car crash which she narrowly survived herself. She verbally voices her dream to become a sprinter herself. When Kylie is a couple of years older, she has been routinely doing runs around the street to train for tryouts at the Commonwealth Games. She passes by an old woman's house, and the woman watches her run, a suspicious look on her face.
She passes by her boyfriend James's house and the two of them eat out at a McDonald's, where she deliberately orders a vegetarian option. Kylie and James get to talking about her progress and he eventually tries to persuade her to eat meat, which she stubbornly refuses to because she is obsessed with becoming healthy enough to compete. She begins to train at the Leckwith Stadium independently, running 100 metres in twelve seconds, which frustrates her because she is trying to make ten seconds or less. One of the girls who also trains, Harriet Simmons, challenges her to a race, which Kylie overconfidently accepts - Harriet cheats by flashing a torchlight in Kylie's face and blinding her, which causes her to trip and fall. The old woman watches her.
On her way back, humiliated, the old woman offers her a ride home. She cautiously accepts and the old woman identifies herself as Christine Mallory and befriends the girl. She comments on Kylie's running and her passion for it, until Kylie angrily rebuffs her. Christine drops her at home where Sarah briefly sees Christine's face and it is obvious that they aren't pleased to see one another, but Christine drives off before they can look at each other for too long. At home, Kylie Skypes with James and comments on how Harriet humiliated her. James notes that Harriet is also running for tryouts at the Commonwealth Games, but has been privileged in her training, which frustrates Kylie.
Christine watches Kylie running for several days, each time she is no closer to her intended record. Kylie is repeatedly distracted in her runs, due to her ADHD, and her impulses cause her to fail at her record, which Christine points out to her. Kylie turns belligerent about her advice and asks her exactly what she wants. Christine indicates that independent training, while reasonably effective, is insufficient in comparison to having someone else helping to train her, and offers to be her coach. Kylie cautiously accepts and over the next week, Christine rigorously trains Kylie, exhausting her and leading to her sleeping in over the weekend. In doing so, she accidentally bails on a date with James, which makes him unsure of her devotion to him.
Kylie later is introduced to Christine's lodger, Jane Taylor, who becomes her training partner and, over the next few weeks, Kylie and Jane race one another. Jane surpasses her every time, but supports her with advice just as Christine does. Kylie introduces the two of them to James, and invites him to have a drink with them. She avoids alcohol, at Christine's suggestion, and James becomes curious as to the woman's influence over her. On the way back, Harriet torments Kylie until Christine wards her off. Christine then visits the Cardiff representative of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Jack Worthington, and tries to get Kylie into the tryouts, but only once she agrees to let Worthington see Kylie run first.
One night, Sarah confronts Kylie about her sudden, unnaturally intense devotion to running, since it had previously compromised her education - if her ADHD hadn't compromised it enough already. Angry at her passion being challenged, Kylie defends that she has to do so in order to prove herself worthy. Sarah questions what she has to be worthy of, but Kylie is unable to answer this. Sarah laments that Kylie's mother had taken her education seriously and been successful in more ways than any of her siblings, and Kylie snaps at Sarah for comparing the two of them. During one race between Jane and Kylie, Worthington watches and is impressed but unconvinced. Harriet, however, is considered perfect.
James and Kylie go on a date, but James is frustrated that the only thing she can talk about is her training. She pacifies him and offers to go to see a film with him the next weekend. In the meantime, Christine is confronted by Sarah, and it is revealed that Christine is in fact Sarah's sister and Kylie's aunt. Sarah questions why Christine is doing this when she herself had disgraced herself on the same sport, to which Christine demands that Sarah leave. The next day, Kylie violently tries to stop Kylie from going to training but Kylie goes anyway. She races officially against Reagan McAllister, one of the other contestants, and wins, being accepted into the tryouts - however, the commentator Jack Worthington Jr (Simply called JJ for Jack Junior), ostracises her from the others by pointing out her physical insufficiencies, but applauds Harriet's prowess.
After the race, while she is changing, Kylie is confronted by Harriet, who challenges her competence and mental stability. Kylie is provoked and threatens Harriet, who arrogantly dares her to prove that she's tough. Goaded, Kylie attacks Harriet and the two of them fight through the changing rooms until Kylie breaks her nose in two places. The fight is reported to the committee and she is threatened with extrication from the tryouts - she is given a second chance, but Christine and Sarah are both separately annoyed with her. She goes on the date with James, and during which she is tempted by her frustration to get drunk with him, and they playfully have sex.
Kylie returns to the track the next day, heavily intoxicated, and brutally humiliates herself by slurring her aunt, coach and opponents for preventing her opportunity to take the field in the Commonwealth Games. She is disqualified from the tryouts, and a furious Christine tirades her for her behaviour and lapse in dedication. Sobbing, Kylie runs home and refuses to communicate with Sarah, crying herself to sleep. James tries to comfort her, but she tearfully snaps at him and he breaks up with her. Horrified at her own temper driving her own boyfriend away, Kylie continues to weep. A broken-nosed Harriet offers to comfort her, but Sarah, knowing about the fight, sends her away.
Christine visits and Sarah is reluctant to let her in. Christine offers to make it up to Sarah for what she's done, and Sarah is eventually persuaded to let her in - Christine goes to see Kylie, and explains that she is Kylie's aunt, her mother's sister. Kylie asks why she has been helping her so seriously to which Christine explains that, when she was young she shared the same ambition as Kylie to be a part of the Commonwealth Games. However, during her final tryout she was so neurotic to win that she assaulted another racer who had slighted her. Disgracing herself and her family, she estranged herself from her family and never entered the track again. She was married and divorced, with two children who had died in a car accident. Moved by her story, Kylie hugs Christine and pines for a second opportunity in the tryouts.
Kylie and Harriet reconcile and she explains that she is heading for the finals of the tryouts - she explains that she's flirted substantially with JJ and helped get Kylie back on the tryouts, which solidifies their reconciliation. Christine helps to train Kylie again, which Kylie throws herself into with a more serious attitude. She flies through most of the trials, until she ends up in the final tryouts and is set to compete against Harriet. Supported by Jane, she trains increasingly harder, until she almost collapses, and Jane wishes her luck with the upcoming finale. Before the race, Christine meets Kylie in the changing rooms and, in the midst of a heartfelt conversation about both their original ambitions when Kylie almost suffers a panic attack.
As Kylie hyperventilates, Christine delivers a powerful speech about ambition versus prowess versus what she really wants, and that what she really wants is to prove herself capable of winning - Kylie understands that Christine knows this because Kylie is similar to her at a much younger age. Out on the tracks, Kylie and Christine and the other racers, and she spies Christine, Sarah, Jane and James in the audience. An intense race begins, with Kylie falling back quickly, but she hears Christine's speech in her head and is motivated to sprint ahead of the others, stalemating with Harriet until the last second where comes first place.
Kylie's record is 10.86 seconds, to which she is overjoyed. She celebrates with the others, and Harriet approaches her, gasping for breath - smiling at one another, they shake hands. Inviting everyone down her house, Kylie is surprised when James shows up and offers to get back together with her, and she kisses him and invites him to join them. They drink a toast to Kylie's victory.
Screen captions explain that Kylie competed for the next ten years, and still ran competitively with Jane and Harriet in her spare time - she started dating James a month after their reconciliation.
- Georgie Henley as Kylie Carlyle, an emotional, determined but insecure teenage girl diagnosed with severe ADHD, who aspires deeply to become a professional sprinter in the Commonwealth Games. Throughout the film, her ADHD lands her in severe problems, but she is passionately intent on becoming a sprinter.
- Pam Ferris as Christine Mallory, an ex-alcoholic sprinter who was once disqualified from the Commonwealth tryouts after assaulting another sprinter, and was thus disowned by her family and self-exiled to Cardiff. Years later, she agrees to help coach Kylie so that she can have the opportunity that she lost because of her own mistakes.
- Chloe Grace Moretz as Harriet Simmons, an athletic, driven but extremely arrogant athlete and Kylie's archenemy. She belongs to a successful family and, unlike Kylie, she has been attributed by the best training money can buy, which puts her at odds with Kylie when the latter begins to surpass her. She is essentially the main antagonist of the film.
- Asa Butterfield as James Bradley, Kylie's compassionate and supportive boyfriend whose relationship contradicts with her aspiration for sprinting. He wants to support Kylie in her ambitions, but is increasingly afraid that she is prioritising her training over her relationship with him.
- Natalie Dormer as Jane Taylor, Kylie's extremely supportive and attractive training partner, who has been living as a lodger with Christine since she bailed out of university. She is a skilled, but unambitious sprinter who Kylie comes to admire but mistrust when Jane betrays her misadventures to Christine.
- Ruth Wilson as Sarah Carlyle, Kylie's guardian and aunt who is allegedly her only surviving relative and has raised her since she was six. She disapproves of Kylie's sprinting because it is distracting her from her education, which Kylie's mother took seriously. When Sarah reunites with Christine, she is belligerent at first but soon comes to make peace with her sister.
- Tom Felton as Jack Worthington Jr. (Aka 'JJ'), the commentator and referee for the sprinting tryouts who develops an interest in Kylie's prowess and background. Biased, flamboyant and callous, he enjoys making one-sided opinions and voicing them to the crowd, and becomes angry with both Christine and Kylie when they both begin to make complaints about him and his attitude.
- Jonathan Pryce as Jack Worthington Sr., Jack Worthington Jr.'s father and representative of the CGF in Cardiff. He, drastically unlike his son, is extremely fair and sympathetic to Kylie's plight and is forced to balance what she wants, versus his son's arrogance, versus the rules of the CGF.
- Megan Charpentier as Reagan McAllister, one of Kylie's opponents in the tryouts who is her first major victory.
Get Set Go received acclaim from critics and audiences and actual athletes who have competed in the Commonwealth Games. It was praised for its direction, score, screenplay and the performances of Henley, Butterfield and Ferris. The realistic display of a person's dedication to support was also praised. It received a 91% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average of 8.9/10 based on 112 reviews, and its consensus reads: "Get Set Go exceeds its expectations for being a derivative sports flick with a genuinely heartfelt story with sympathetic characters, a great director and a finely paced storyline". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Alonso Duralde of TheWrappe praised Georgie Henley's performance, stating "Georgie Henley delivers a captivatingly warming performance in this moving, heartfelt masterpiece of a movie about a young athlete trying to beat her own demons on the racetrack". He also praised Ferris, Butterfield and Dormer's performances, respectively calling them "Powerful", "Down-to-earth" and "Charismatic", lauding Ferris's scenes with Henley for their emotional depth. However, the one criticism for the film was essentially its use of archetypes such as Felton and Pryce's characters.
Awards and nominations
Georgie Henley's performance was the main source of awards - she was nominated for Best Heroine, Best Hissy Fit, Best Fight (Shared with Chloe Grace Moretz), and won Kid's Choice for Favourite Heroine, BAFTA Award for Best Actress and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Drama. She also won for Best Kiss (Shared with Asa Butterfield). Pam Ferris was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and won Best Monologue. The film won for Best Director (Miller), Best Score, Best Sports Drama, Sports Movie of the Year and Best Casting. It was nominated for Best Script.