Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. United Kingdom/USA, 2006. , HanWay Films, BBC Films, Recorded Picture Company. Screenplay by Eric Schlosser, Richard Linklater, based on the book Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser. Cinematography by Lee Daniel. Produced by Malcolm McLaren, Jeremy Thomas. Music by Friends of Dean Martinez. Production Design by Bruce Curtis. Costume Design by Kari Perkins. Film Editing by Sandra Adair. Cannes Film Festival 2006.
A globally urgent message and a collection of superb performances can’t make a classic out of Richard Linklater’s adaptation of Eric Schlosser’s non-fiction book. Greg Kinnear plays an executive for a fictional multi-million dollar fast-food chain (with the non-subtle name Mickey’s) who has to go to his company’s meat manufacturers in Texas and find out why a couple of university students found manure in the ‘Big One’ when they did a culture experiment on the restaurant’s signature burger. His voyage takes us into a terrifying world of greed and inhumanity as Mexican migrant labourers (including the magnificent Catalina Sandino Moreno, who plays a different version of her Maria Full Of Grace character) are used as fodder to keep an endless cash-minded process going. Meanwhile a local teenager (a terrific Ashley Johnson) is barely able to keep it together between school and schlepping burgers to help her single working mom (Patricia Arquette) make ends meet. Politics, health issues and an insane economy are all blended together for a film that has a lot to say but can never say it with any subtlety. Every character’s situation screams ‘message’, making the film pander to its audience more often than not, resulting in great intentions that are as exciting as a lecture from your parents on why fast food is bad for you. Stick with it to the end, though; who knows, the chilling ending might make you a vegetarian.