Friday, 5 September 2008

Fast Food Nation (2006) - ickleReview (DVD)

This is an unusual but powerful fictionalized adaptation of Eric Schlosser's non-fiction book about the production of fast food in the USA. Director Richard Linklater tells the interweaving stories of Mexican migrant workers; the Vice-President of Marketing for Mickey's (Greg Kinnear), a leading burger chain (like McDonald's); a Mickey's employee (Ashley Johnson); and lots of other characters around them. The impressive supporting cast of familiar faces includes Kris Kristofferson, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Avril Lavigne, Luis Guzmán, and Bruce Willis.

Guzmán plays a people trafficker who helps Mexicans cross the border at night and ferries them to Cody, Colorado, a commercial strip of a town with a depressingly long line of fast food restaurants. The Mexicans have come to work in the meat packing factory that is fed by the huge cattle ranches. It's gruesome and dangerous work, but they can earn more in a day ($80) than they would earn in a whole month back in Mexico. Kinnear's character, Don Anderson, has been sent by his boss at Mickey's on a fact-finding mission to investigate claims that faecal matter (i.e. cow shit) has been detected in the patties used in Mickey's successful Big One burgers, which are manufactured at the meat-packing factory.

It feels like a John Sayles film with a powerful political message. It's not always subtle, but then it is dealing with a brutal trade in people and animals. It's a brilliant way to realize the documentary quality of Schlosser's investigative journalism in a narrative fiction format.

Nugget: polished and important stuff.


  1. Not always subtle. An elephant dung heap dumped outside your front door would be more subtle.

  2. You're quite right. I don't think Linklater was aiming for subtlety, though. The film is essentially a polemic.

  3. Which at least is true to the spirit of the book.