Fast Food Nation
Texan filmmaker, vegetarian and activist Richard Linklater’s fictional interpretation of Eric Schlosser’s bestselling non-fiction book exposing malpractice in the America’s fast food industry is an enjoyable and shocking freewheeling satire on consumer culture. Opening with a hamburger chain marketing executive (Greg Kinnear) investigating contaminated meat patties (and finding animal faeces in them), the narrative is then passed baton-like onto various characters involved in the production and consumption of America’s favourite snack. Among them is an unethical meat buyer (Bruce Willis in an uncredited cameo), a gang of Mexican immigrants working illegally in a Colorado slaughterhouse, a pair of spotty-faced burger flippers and a group of bumbling student activists lead by Avril Lavigne. Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Luis Guzman and Kris Kristofferson also put in brief appearances.
It’s an uneven film, lurching from gritty drama to slapstick comedy to heavyweight ethical debate and back again. And between the often clumsy direction and some ham-fisted acting, it feels like it was shot on the hoof, as it were, and compiled on the quick. Nevertheless, Linklater and co-writer Schlosser’s collaboration has some admirable sequences, from Kinnear and Willis’ argument over ‘shitburgers’ to Mexican actress Catalina Sandino Moreno working on the ‘kill floor’ of an abattoir. The latter was filmed covertly by Linklater inside a real abattoir, and is the climactic scene the film builds up to. After watching this money shot it’s unlikely you’ll ever eat another hamburger, which, of course, is the intention. Job done.