I really like Richard Linklater, the director of Fast Food Nation, because no matter what pop culture, market research, or his distributors tell him he continues to make movies where people talk. I don't mean talk as in "Hasta la vista, baby," or some other cliche-ridden "isn't that clever" marketing jargon, but TALK, as in conversations; the kind that were common place before TV, the Internet, and X-Boxes.
In Fast Food Nation, the film's message is mainly delivered through words. Sure, there's sex, and violence, and even a special effect, but for Linklater's film to be truly affecting it requires the audience to listen. And if they do, they will be rewarded. It's a gamble that I hope will pay off because it's a story that we need to hear. And within his story is an underlying hope--or perhaps just blind faith--that an audience will watch a film about real people dealing with real issues.
There are no true good guys or bad guys in the film. In an interview with my friend, Denis (link below) he says,
"It's like, hey, everyone's doing their best in this world, you know?"
His characters, like all of us, are all flawed. The good aren't all good, nor the bad all bad, which is something mainstream movie goers, particularly in the USA, seem to have a problem with. Maybe it's because we don't watch movies to watch people in conflict because we get enough of that in our own life.
But to me, at least, this is a great statement of optimism and belief in our society; that we will, when given the choice, choose to listen, think, and make our own decisions. Even in a film that shows life to be pretty bleak, it's a very optimistic view of the world.
Here is Denis' interview with Richard Linklater and writer Eric Schlosser.
Here is his review.