Fast Food Nation

three and a half stars out of five Hmm. Perhaps Richard Linklater may have deliberately decided not to jump on the documentary bandwagon, following in the wake of Michael Moore and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

Let’s hope so, because there has to have been a good reason for this rather unengaging film.

Based on the factual book of the same name, Fast Food Nation attempts to fictionalise some of the issues that were dealt with in the book. Where the book addresses a range of ethical issues within the food and drink industries in the US, the film concentrates specifically on the production of burgers for a fictional chain, Mickeys.

It does this by weaving together a number of different strands – exploitation of illegal Mexican immigrant labour, the political awakenings of a teenage girl, the (rather wet) student political activism she gets involved with, the might of the marketing machine and, lest we forget, there’s a final few minutes showing the appalling conditions in which animals are slaughtered.

Actually, there’s nothing much wrong with the film, except that chunks of the dialogue sound like extracts from a lecture rather than any attempt at naturalistic conversation. In fact, the idea of fictionalising the events should have made the film more engaging, but somehow it doesn’t quite come off.

The ending – where nothing changes and things go on as usual – was by far the most depressing part of the film, as well as probably being the part with the greatest realism.

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