Richard Linklater‘s Fast Food Nation, which screened at the Cannes Film festival yesterday afternoon at 5 pm, is Traffic with meat. Based on Eric Schlosser ‘s best-selling nonfiction “Fast Food Nation”, it’s a sprawlingly ambitious ensemble drama (i.e., meaning it’s not a documentary) about how different people at different economic stratas are coping with or reacting to the gastronomic yuck factor at the core of the fast-food industry . If Super-Size Me put you off McDonald’s, wait until you see this puppy. Yet another in a fascinating run of political films that are suddenly pouring out of Hollywood these days, Fast Food Nation isn’t without flaws. It meanders a bit and isn’t exactly strung tight with story tension, but it’s an agreeable meandering. I was so “with” this film and what Linklater was up to in his rambling-shambling way that I forgave the frilm for its occasional detours that don’t quite pay off. Others have been telling me they think FFN has too many loose story strands, others feel as I do, and still others are creaming over it. N.Y. Times critic Manohla Dargis is calling it “devastating” and “ferocious” and “the most essential political film from an American director since Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.” (Manohla showed up for the early afternoon Fast Food Nation press conference today, and she rarely attends press conferences, so there you go.) A woman I know just walked in and said some people didn’t like it “because of all the blood.” That’s the single dumbest thing I’ve heard so far from anyone at this festival. The slaughterhouse killing-floor sequence comes only at the end, and is obviously justified, necessary and non-gratuitous. Some of the characters feel under-written, but restrained, lived-in performances are given uniformly by Gregg Kinnear, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Bruce Willis, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Paul Dano, Esai Morales, Wilmer Valderrama, Kris Kristofferson, Ashley Johnson, Lou Pucci, Jr., Luis Guzman, Avril Lavigne, Ana Claudia Talancon and Bobby Cannavale.