It would be incredibly simple to dismiss The Founder – the story of the man who turned McDonalds into the global corporation that it is today- as merely a marketing ploy to advertise the brand (not unlike director John Lee Hancock’s other film Saving Mr. Banks). However, to do so would be to miss a strongly crafted portrait of corporate greed that is both well-acted and utterly enthralling.
The Founder follows travelling huckster, Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) as he encounters the brothers, Mac and Dick McDonald (John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman, respectively). Astounded by their revolutionary ‘speedy system’, which would come to revolutionise the food industry, Kroc convinces the brothers to sign a Faustian deal to let him franchise their restaurant and create ‘the new American church’. The rest is history, however, as the film proves, history is malleable.
The film is fundamentally one about the American Dream and the perils that come with it and, as previously mentioned, t“1he film features some truly fantastic performances. Michael Keaton shines as the initially likeable Kroc who becomes more and more obsessed with wealth and power, seemingly channelling Betelgeuse and at times almost slipping into the same the voice. Similarly, the relationship between Kroc and the brothers is played brilliantly by Keaton, Offerman and Carroll, with the latter two oozing on-screen chemistry.
Kroc’s turn to greed, which puts him in opposition with the McDonald brothers core beliefs thereby creating the dichotomy that the film revolves around, is brilliantly realised by the sharp script and often brilliant direction. However, it is in particular directorial choices where certain issues begin to arise. Shifts in tone are sudden and jarring can be off-putting at times. There are also parts of the McDonald brothers’ story which goes untold, with them just becoming voices on the end of a phone for large portions of the film.
These issues, however, are incredibly minor compared to the rest of the film, which for all intents and purposes, is an engaging and deeply enjoyable film that will leave audiences, rather frustratingly, quite hungry.
Image: Youtube, Studio Canal UK