‘The Founder’ (2016)

‘The Founder’ is a perfect example of a mismatch between a director and his subject matter. Texan John Lee Hancock, known for directing ‘middle America’ folksy sentimental stories about plucky characters over coming odds, in films such as ‘The Blind Side’ and ‘Saving Mr. Banks’, both ok-good films who’s subject matter more suited Hancock’s sugary tone. However with the mildly interesting story of how an ice cream salesman named Ray Kroc came to take over the largest fast food chain in the world, Hancock’s folksy directing style stumbles. What ‘The Founder’ in better hands could have been was a dark, indictment and cautionary tale on American greed and single mindedness in the vein of ‘The Social Network’ or ‘The Aviator’ instead ends up as a ‘by the numbers’ traditional bio pic slog through a series of slow scene build ups to the bleedingly obvious and uninteresting ending. Micheal Keaton does as best an actor can to flesh out a portrait of a complex man beneath the cheesy smile. However given the tone, direction and in particular glib ‘punch-line’ dialogue that sucks all the nuanced air out of every scene we never get more than a passing understand of the man. Although he flow the slow journey of Ray Kroc to ultimately swindling the two cartoonishly idealistic McDonald brothers out of their creation, it is a skin deep view that never gets into the heart and soul of the character. What was the fire that burns in people to do what they do? The film does offer one telling insight into the man, the debt he psychologically owed to the ‘positive thinking’ movement. A psychological train of thought which has given us such wonderful men as Donald Trump. You can tell Keaton is trying to depict Ray Kroc as a character that you hate for his cruelty and respect for his persistence. And yet because of the flaws in the film you get a film that fails in the same way Jennifer Lawerence’s portrayal in 2014’s ‘Joy’ failed, namely: that you are never able to care enough about what is happening to the character in either a positive or negative way. Perhaps this is the saddest fate to fall a film and an actors portrayal: total uninterested apathy. You can basically watch the trailer or read the Wikipedia entry on his rise and that will sate most passing interest you might have in this sad man’s story. I do think as much as Americans love to worship the rise of the self made man or woman, we must all realise that this is a myth, no man rises on his own. Some men rest on the shoulders of others and call themselves tall.

5/10   **1/2

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