Very few feature films start out as non-fiction books. Linklater’s movie, like Eric Schlosser’s original bestseller, is very informative. You will learn a lot of shit about the American fast-food business; what’s in the burgers ain’t good for your system! Yes, the business stinks. Customers, workers and animals suffer.
Sadly though, Fast Food Nation struggles to be more than informative. The big problem is a fatal mismatch between the main characters and the main events. Too little happens to those at the centre of things, while those caught up in the major dramas – a Mexican man who loses his legs in machinery, a woman who gets into drugs – are peripheral. Sometimes too, as in a bad soap, characters act out of character for plot reasons – so Sylvia, sister of the woman with a drug problem, gives herself to evil Mike, the overseer.
This isn’t quite joined-up filmmaking; and the result, sadly, is a little flat.Malcolm Lewis