The past few years have really brought about the resurgence of many actors, one of which is Michael Keaton. With two Best Picture winners under his belt in the past couple of years, in both Birdman and Spotlight, his latest film, The Founder, tackles the origin story of... McDonald's?

Based on a true story, the film follows Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), a salesman that goes from business to business selling whatever different invention he has come across. However, a mediocre life doesn't suffice the power and wealth hungry Kroc, so, upon discovering a successful small business McDonald's - run by the McDonald brothers, Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch) - he sees the potential they don't: franchise. Deciding to team up with the pair to share their gift ad craft for hamburger making - and their speedy system; food delivered in 30 seconds flat - with the world, Ray sets out in turning the small fast-food restaurant into the food empire we know it as today. But, the bigger McDonald's gets, the hungrier for more Ray gets, quickly leading him to making some morally dubious choices to secure his wealth.

I wasn't aware of the story of how McDonald's came to be the world's largest food empire. Honestly, I wasn't even sure how interesting a film based on it could be. However, after seeing The Founder, I'm quite surprised I did not hear of it earlier. I'm also surprised by just how fascinating this film is - it's entertaining in spades. This is a gripping, and - quite frankly - shocking story and writer Robert Siegel's screenplay is so rich and superb and laden with nuance. The story is so crazy it's almost hard to believe it all actually happened at some points - especially towards the latter half, when we really get to see the manipulative side of Keaton's Kroc. On that note, the characters in this film - most especially Kroc - are all so brilliantly written; they're all so perfectly realised and we find ourselves constantly saddened, angered, overjoyed and more by their choices - a testament to Siegel's writing and how much we find ourselves invested in their stories.
The performances are all as equally impressive. Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch are a powerhouse pairing as the McDonald brothers; for such comedic actors, they really give such strong, dramatic performances here - and, yes, their comedic relief is as funny as ever too when it does come. Laura Dern, B.J Novak, and Patrick Wilson make up the rest of the supporting cast and, as great as they are when they're on-screen, they do all feel a little underused - especially Dern, whose character Ethel Kroc had such an interesting character arc that I would loved to have seen more of and one that could have played such a pivotal role to the story but it rather felt fairly sidelined. Of course, to no one's surprise, Michael Keaton steals the show. It's a real shame that this year's Best Actor category was so stacked with stellar performances because Keaton gives a performance to behold; he's so likable and charming, yet also so despicable and unlikable all at the same time. He really gets into the skin of Kroc, to the point we forgot we're watching a household actor like Michael Keaton, and rather just see the character instead.

Director John Lee Hancock - whose previous works include the astounding The Blind Side and Saving Mr. Banks - continues his winning streak with The Founder, adding another solid drama to his already impressive filmography. The direction is here is slick and stunning; the cinematography is even more so, with gorgeous sweeping shots aplenty. Hancock has a real craft for orchestrating dramatic tension and he utilises that talent here so meticulously; this is a director that understands characters and character dramas and knows how to direct a simplistic dialogue scene and have it feel so rich and thoroughly enthralling. The Founder perhaps falters in a slow first act that really takes a while to set things up, but once he comes across McDonald's and the film gets going, it really moves. This is an utterly compelling, fascinating, shocking and just brilliant piece of film that will surprise you by having you so invested in McDonald's. Yes, believe it. Who ever thought McDonald's could ever captivate so much?

VERDICT:
Michael Keaton's winning streak continues; The Founder is such a compelling, surprising and brilliant insight into the origin of one of the biggest food empires in the world.


 

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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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