Billed as a French-US production, Fast Food, Fast Women is an ensemble character film, which alternates between being quirkily endearing and totally predictable. Anna Thomson stars as Bella, the almost-35-year-old waitress with the heart of gold and the center around which the plot revolves. Put down by her mother, fucked (literally and figuratively) by her married theater producer lover, and prodded by a girl friend to lie to her next blind date that she hates kids and doesn’t want to get married, the stage is set for two hours of miscommunication and travails.
On one level, it is a frustrating film because one moment Bella captures us with a conversation from the bathtub with an off-screen pet that turns out to be a mouse, and then another character actually arrives at his love interest's door saying "I should have called." Of course then another man comes out of the bathroom asking if they should order Chinese food. Unique, detailed moments followed by a scene that was predictable the first time we saw it 100 films ago. And so it goes.
Fast Food looks at the question of aging and how it is faced by men and women and does so in some wonderfully detailed and nuanced scenes, yet the focus for women is facing the questions at the age of 35 and for men at the age of 75. True to culture perhaps, but oh dear. The three older men friends are perhaps the truest of all the characters (played by Robert Modica, Victor Argo and Austin Pendleton) and it is a joy to see such character actors at work together. Louise Lasser appears as well to remind us of what a look from her can bring to a part as she tugs at our heartstrings.
There is – finally – the proverbial happy ending and most of the audience left with smiles on their faces. Ensemble- and character-driven films are my personal favorites and so perhaps I hold them to a higher standard and wish more for them when they are not all they could be. It's sweet, it's quirky, but it falls into too many traps from screenwriting 1A.
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