AT ANY PRICE
BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
SEPTEMBER 22, 2013
In the age of anti-heroes and villainous leading characters, “At Any Price” fits right in. With Dennis Quaid playing the always overly positive, yet deep down bad guy Henry Whipple, you love to hate the main character in Ramin Bahrani’s Iowa based film. Henry is a family man, but he’s always cheating on his wife (Kim Dickens) with his high school sweetheart (Heather Graham). Henry is a farmer, but he also illegally cleans patented seeds and sells them. Henry shows undying adoration for one son that left home to go to college and has never returned while the son that is still around, Dean (Zac Efron), is considered lost to the world of racing.
Quaid’s character has minimal admirable qualities, and for that, with every stupid smile and condescending piece of advice he spouts off, you pray he’ll get what’s coming to him, and it carries on like this through the entire film. None of the characters are likable. Perhaps it’s my upbringing in a farm community and the dark side that I’ve seen that makes these characters more relatable in their unlikable ways. Still, with no emotional connection to any of them, it’s hard to know where the film is going and why you should care. Where Bahrani’s film ends it not too far from where it begins, begging the question of what the point was. Still, the film remains entertaining enough to captivate attention, and Quaid and Efron give enough in their performances to be watchable. Yet, apart from that, this is just another small-town venture in things that don’t matter.
April 24, 2013
Hallie Elizabeth Newton
Sony Pictures Classics
(for sexual content including a strong graphic image, and for language)