Sunday, November 26, 2006

Fast Food Nation : review

To wrap up this Thanksgiving Weekend, I went to see the film Fast Food Nation.

I am a huge fan of the book by Eric Schlosser and was a bit confused at how it could be transformed into a non-documentary film.
My low expectations were surpassed as the movie lived up to the book.

Director (and vegetarian) Linklater weaves multiple stories together around the fabric of fastfood. Afterall, our country is engulfed in fastfood culture (Fast Food Nation haha); from the "product" of animals to the production job to the consumption.
This movie took the same smart road the book did; it isn't feeding us the simple notion to stop eating meat because meat is bad. It is showing us the bigger picture of the entire industry.

It really is amazing how effectively this film follows each thread.
The most prominent thread is that of undocumented Spanish-speaking workers who cross the risky border, take horrifyingly dangerous jobs, are sexually exploited, and struggle to work. About 1/3 of the entire film is in Spanish.

Another thread follows a burger exec who tracks down the source of meat and possible contaminations.
It is a kind of Mr. Smith Goes To Washington vibe as he begins to see what he is up against and working for.

The thread I found to be the best and the worst was one following a high school student that works for the burger chain.
It shows the troubles of a White teen in rural USA needing work and the transormation she makes into rejecting the meat industry. Perhaps this story attempted to pack too much into one person's journey. However, given the dense amount of information needing light in the movie and the pace of the rest of the film, I think it was done as best it could be done.
This young female protagonist even commits corporate sabotage.

I would really congradulate Fast Food Nation on the nuances throughout the film that are so alien to major US films.
The 2 best examples of which were 1) A drug addict worker actually rising through the ranks and making good (her drug use becoming not an issue). It seems that the contemporary standard is that if an addict is featured, we have to see them in some downward spiral. 2) The naive group of would-be animal liberators commit sabotage and do not get caught (they even acknowledge that property destruction is considered "terrorism"). The rule in films is usually that a crime must not go unpunished.

It certainly is interesting that a film with this much significant talent (Wilmer Valerrama, Bruce Willis, Ethan Hawke, Greg Kinnear, Luis Guzman, Patricia Arquette, Kris Krisofferson, and more) hasn't generated much publicity.

I expected Fast Food Nation to be heavy... and it was.
The film started out not-so-heavy and built a firm base. By the end, on the "kill floor", the curtain is pulled aside as we peak into the death of burgers-to-be from the perspective of a sexually exploited Latina.
How could a film about the exploitation of humans and non-humans and the peddling of death not be heavy.

I HIGHLY encourage everyone to see this movie and get others to see it as well.