Fast Food Nation, directed by Richard Linklater from Eric Schlosser's 2001 bestselling exposé of the McDonald's conspiracy, is an anti-commercial. Taking a cleaver to the great American hamburger, it's designed to kill desire and deprogram the viewer's appetite. Fast Food Nation opens with a slow zoom into the fresh-charred heart of a greasy, gristle-flecked beef patty. The thing looks disgusting long before it's established that any individual burger is the ground residue of many, many messily butchered animals (plus their hormones and the contents of their intestines), given a dollop of extra fat, injected with chemical perfume, and possibly dipped in floor dirt or garnished with an employee's loogie. Linklater's polemic is overflowing with good intentions, and it's graphic enough to put you off beef, but the director is actually after bigger game: He uses the scarcely fictionalized Mickey's franchise ("Home of the Big One") as a metaphor for American life, because McDonald's R Us.
Richard LinklaterPatricia Arquette, Bobby Cannavale, Luis Guzman, Ethan Hawke, Greg Kinnear, Kris Kristofferson, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Lou Taylor Pucci, Ana Claudia Talancon, Wilmer ValderramaRichard Linklater, Eric SchlosserMalcolm McLaren, Jeremy ThomasFox Searchlight Pictures