Thursday, March 8, 2007

Fast Food Nation (Richard Linklater, 2006)

Richard Linklater is my favorite "new-generation" film director, and obviously, at the tops of my favorite film directors ever. Dazed And Confused, Before Sunset, and Waking Life; these are masterpieces of modern filmmaking. The ones that I won't get bored watching over and over again. And respectably, his other "lesser" films are still worthy of his reputation; maybe with the exception of The Newton Boys. But for his 2nd film of 2006 (after the very good A Scanner Darkly), Fast Food Nation landed as a disappointing endeavor from the auteur. Ambitious, no doubt, but ultimately unsatisfying.

The film boasts a large ensemble cast: Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Bruce Willis, and even Avril Lavigne. Based on the book by Eric Schlosser, who's also in the writing credits, the film tackles the fast food industry. Or *attacks* it, to be precise. Everything from the food itself and the corporate malfeasance, to its effects towards society as a whole.

The "slacker" flow that has been Linklater's directorial 'stamp' is most probably the film's downfall. It worked great in Slacker(obviously), SuBurBia, and pretty much most of his other films. But here, tackling an important, socially-conscious issue that is the fast food industry, needs *energy* and resonance. Which Fast Food Nation failed considerably. Bland characters come and go, bringing very little dramatic tension too if I might add, and the story of each of them felt disconnected somehow. It tried to convey too many messages. Instead, little did they translate effectively. For a lack of a better word, it's "unfocused". Although there *are* some memorable scenes and performances (particularly by Bruce Willis and Paul Dano), but by the end of it I felt a kind of 'emptiness'. The film does raise some thought-provoking issues though, particularly the scene where the characters tried to free the cows but they won't budge. More of a metaphor to the society, too comfortable in their current condition or too scared to change. They (or we) are as helpless as the cows.

Not to say that I hated this film, that would be overly harsh. But it is, as I said, unsatisfying and quite forgettable(then again, maybe not for the cow slaughtering scene). It didn't resonate as much as it should. Maybe it should have stayed in the novel.

Verdict: 2.5/5

1 comment:

rewan ishak said...

aku blom tgk lagi filem nih. tapi before sunset memang favourite aku.