|Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics|
At Any Price Review
2013, 105 minutes
Rated R for sexual content including a strong graphic image, and for language
At Any Price is a film that benefits from a great cast but suffers from a melodramatic storyline. It is the latest film from Ramin Bahrani (Chop Shop, Goodbye Solo) and follows Henry Whipple (Dennis Quaid), a farmer who must deal with multiple crises and keep his family together.
Dennis Quaid delivers a phenomenal performance as Henry. Henry is a slick farmer and businessman who will do anything to keep his customers, and Quaid captures that slickness perfectly. He is completely convincing and hard to watch at points due to the detestability of his character, a big complement to Quaid. Zac Efron turns in a good performance as Henry's son Dean who aspires to be a race car driver. Henry doesn't approve of Dean pursuing this, thus causing family problems. The rest of the supporting cast is good, save for Kim Dickens who stars as Henry's wife. Her performance was fine up until one point at the end where it became laughably overdone.
At Any Price really falters in its screenplay written by Bahrani and Hallie Newton. What starts as an entertaining, but conventional narrative about modern day farmers and the struggles they face turns into a melodramatic mess with far too many contrived plot points and overly dramatic scenes, including one near the end that is so bad its laughable. Bahrani and Newton try to take on serious issues such as seed cleaning and the like, but the story muddles the message.
There is not much else to say about At Any Price. The pacing is fairly even, and it is moderately entertaining until a scene around 3/4 of the way through the film derails the it. While watching At Any Price, I never thought "this movie is terrible," but rather, "wow, this movie could have been so much better." When examining the relevant issues that this film does, one needs to shape the story around the issues to be at least semi-realistic, which this isn't at all. If Bahrani wanted to succeed, he should not have succumbed to the old Hollywood clichés.
Overall, At Any Price is not a bad film. It features some really great performances, but ultimately fails due to its story. Some people may like this, as it is relevant and somewhat entertaining, but when it comes down to it, if you are only going to see a few films at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, there are many better options. At Any Price is by far my least favorite of the six films I've seen thus far from the festival (I will review the rest of the films soon).
Tickets for the film can be bought here.