The Founder is the kind of film that you can watch over and over again and yet never get bored of it. It’s the sort of film that hooks you in from the very first scene and keep you hooked for the duration of its runtime. What is it about? Well it’s about a man who being 52 years old and a “not so successful” mixer salesman, took something great invented by others and left an indelible mark of his own on it. That something referred to here is McDonalds and the person in question is none other than Raymond Kroc (Michael Keaton), the man who not only franchised the McDonalds created by the McDonald brothers but built a corporation out of their legacy and later bought them off and put them out of business.
I have no idea how true to the actual events this film is but I fell in love with its representation of the facts and fiction. I will only judge this film from the perspective of it being a fiction and at that the treatment that this film brings to the platter is as mouthwatering as the food on display. The start is slow and we walk through the daily routine of Kroc who is finding it difficult to make ends meet. As luck would have it, he gets a call for selling six mixers at the same place and when he arrives at this joint called McDonalds he is introduced to what is referred to as speedy service.
He loves the idea and is starry eyed by its potential. The second act of the film shows us how he convinces the McDonald brothers into franchising their property, what hardships he has to face as he goes all out after franchises, his tussles with the brothers every now and then and him meeting that one man who would change the way he looks at the business. The third act of the film shows us the ruthless side of Kroc who now powerful and having strong holdings willfully kicks out the McDonald brothers from their own business and his wife from his life as he makes way for someone new and someone he believes would be more of a partner to him in his exploits across the country.
The Founder is brimming with energy from start to finish. There are a lot of exposition heavy sequences which by the way are the most beautifully envisioned scenes. The initial scene where the McDonald brothers tell their whole story to Kroc is amusing. The subtle use of black and white still imagery amidst the story was a masterstroke. It added a strange dimension to the story and elevated its mood. Speaking of the setting, the film is nearly flawless speaking of the production design and cinematography. Be it the innards of a McDonald joint or the beautifully laid out exteriors, the film successfully recreates its era and you feel immersed in its visual splendor.
The editing is top notch too. It seamlessly shifts between the segments of showing the food and the men behind preparation of the food in the sequences in the joints. The prolonged holds on close-ups to express a feeling or two are also well done. I would like to draw you attention to two specific sequences that would prove the point I just made. The sequence towards the end where Kroc tells his wife played by Laura Dern that he wants a divorce. The words come after a pause of about 2 to 3 minutes. You are waiting for something to happen and then it happens. The same can be noticed in atleast two telephonic conversations between Kroc and the McDonald brothers. It was done consciously and it was done well.
I have a feeling that Michael Keaton cannot put a single wrong foot. He has been on a roll for almost two years now and this is no different. The man just makes the character his own. There is no one else except for Nick Offerman as Richard “Dick” McDonald and John Carroll Lynch as Maurice “Mac” McDonald who is even visible when they share the same screen with Keaton. He is practically in every scene of this film. It is his film and he makes it his own. Whether or not his act is in keeping with the real man is a question we shouldn’t be asking ourselves. What we should be asking ourselves is whether we buy into his character or not? I did buy into his character.
The Founder has everything going in its favor. It’s a welcome departure from the insanely high octane and high budgeted fare that we have been getting over the last few months. It had kind of a soothing effect on me and I earnestly feel that it will have a similar kind of effect on you if you watch as many films as I do. Even if that’s not the case, give this film a watch. You will love it.
Rating : 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)