At Any Price (2013)
Critic Consensus: At Any Price features a terrific performance from Dennis Quaid, and it offers further evidence of Ramin Bahrani's unique eye for detail, but film is weighted down by an overly melodramatic story.
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Critic Reviews for At Any Price
The disappointment and malaise of a modern farmer's life comes through, but almost as an afterthought. As Bahrani makes clear, it's worth a more focused film.
Bahrani fills the frame with weathered faces and "At Any Price" feels like it unfolds in something close to the real America. But he wants to give us larger-than-life drama, and his strengths are life-sized.
Bahrani seems less interested in getting at the heart of a man who has sold his soul than he is in showing how the hard facts of modern farming have literally and figuratively changed the landscape.
Written and played with a little more subtlety, Henry and his contradictions could have been fascinating; as it is, "At Any Price" keeps us at a distance, gazing at characters who never quite come to life.
Like the small farmers forced to kowtow to corporations, writer and director Ramin Bahrani chickens out. His melodramatic script reduces a global conflict to a Grain Belt "Glengarry Glen Ross."
Audience Reviews for At Any Price
Some people take their sons to a ballgame or fishing. Henry Whipple(Dennis Quaid), a farmer and seed salesman, takes his son Dean(Zac Efron) to a funeral. His intention is not to pay his respects so much as to buy the deceased's land for his other son who is currently touring Argentina and according to Henry should be back any time now. At first, it goes over as badly as you'd expect, until it turns out that the family does really want to sell. In any case, Dean does not care about being passed over, as he has other things on his mind. Even though his budgets are increasing and he moves further geographically away from his filmmaking origins, director Ramin Bahrani cannot escape the fact that he might be repeating himself with his obsession with dreamers. In the case of "At Any Price," it involves Dean's dreams of big time auto racing which Bahrani tries to place in a sort of American pastoral. But with a minimal story, he does not display the requisite skill here or get the performances to fully realize it.(Like most movies, there is not enough Clancy Brown to go around.) And maybe genetically modified seeds are a real issue. I'll wait until John Oliver tackles the subject before deciding for sure.
A middling film of the realities of farming mixed in with ridiculous plot lines and far too much Zac Efron than a serious film should commit to.
I don't think this movie knew what it wanted to be. I'm almost sure that half of it was on the cutting room floor, and what was left was a movie confused. Dennis Quaid overacted his way through this film, which didn't help. Not a terrible movie (I did watch it in its entirety), but not a good one, either. Plus, it left a VERY questionable message that didn't sit well with me...
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