Fast Food Nation

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Review byMatthew Turner30/10/2006

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 114 mins

Opens London Film Festival: 28th October

Engaging, thought-provoking and sharply written, this is an impressively directed drama with superb performances from its talented ensemble cast.

What's it all about?
Adapted by Eric Schlosser and director Richard Linklater from Schlosser's own non-fiction best-seller, Fast Food Nation is set in the midwestern town of Cody, Colorado and presents several characters with connections to the junk food industry. Greg Kinnear stars as marketing rep Don Henderson, who works for fast food giant Mickey's and is sent to Cody to investigate reports of faecal matter in the meat.

Other characters include Mexican immigrants Sylvia (Catalina Sandino Moreno), her boyfriend (Wilmer Valderrama) and her sister (Ana Claudia Talancon), who cross the border with the help of a coyote (Luis Guzman) and get jobs at the meat packing plant in Cody. There's also Amber (Ashley Johnson), who's very happy with her job as a Mickey's cashier, until she has her eyes opened by some student activists (including Lou Pucci and Avril Lavigne).

The Good
The film is extremely well structured, with the three main story strands covering all the memorable parts of the book without feeling too heavy handed. These include: the contamination of the meat; the dubious hygiene practices of bored, minimum wage employees; the exploitation of migrant workers and the realities of the slaughterhouse killing floor.

Kinnear makes a likeable lead, while Ashley Johnson proves to be a star in the making and Moreno capitalises on her impressive work in Maria, Full of Grace. There are also some terrific cameos from the likes of Ethan Hawke (as Amber's laid back uncle), a busty Patricia Arquette (as Amber's mother) and an uncredited Bruce Willis as Harry, the bullish meat-buyer for Mickey's.

The Great
The script is excellent and Linklater's semi-documentary style approach pays huge dividends, forcing us to question our own part in the industry food-chain.

Worth seeing?
Fast Food Nation is an engaging, provocative film with superb performances from its cast. It'll also make you think twice about that post-film burger. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 23/02/2020 08:00

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