I saw the film version of Fast Food Nation last night (with a Czech audience of about 10). It was patently disappointing; after reading the book, I felt informed and indignant. After watching the film, I felt utterly bored (actually, boredom set in about 30 minutes into the experience). The film just didn’t bring out the strong messages of the book. Structurally, it opened up multiple storylines without satisfying resolution; also, for a topic that was covered so comprehensively in the book, the film felt very confined and contained. It was as if we were trying to view Australia looking down from two meters off the ground.
I thought Linkletter’s Waking Life was excellent; however, A Scanner Darkly was lacklustre and this third film was just forgettable. All three films consisted of people standing or sitting around talking. Which, for Waking Life worked perfectly; in Fast Food Nation it felt like a parody of old PBS documentaries (it would have been a much better use of resources if he had made a documentary that had the liberty of traversing more time and space). The dialogue was forced out upon the audience in a very “we have something important to say so let’s just have everyone exposit as much as possible” fashion. Especially bothersome was the cliché student activist group!
This was an important topic that should be opened up to public debate; however, mediocre elitist drama is not the way to accomplish any such goal. I would imagine many audiences were drawn to the film from the trailer (which erroneously leads one to believe the film is a comedy), then forced to sit through a ponderous two hour exposition on what’s wrong with everything. This, I would imagine, has not endeared many people to the cause.
(I thought it ironic though that the film was set in Cody, Wyoming. This was were I first had food poisoning.)