At Any Price features a world that is about as true about our nation’s family farms as could be portrayed on film. Dennis Quaid is Henry Whipple, the leader of a family farm who has high hopes that his sons will take over the business as he did from his father and he did from his.
As teased in the At Any Price trailer, the only thing is Quaid’s oldest son Grant (Patrick Stevens) has wanderlust and leaves for college and never returns as he travels the world. His youngest son Dean (Zac Efron) has dreams of being a NASCAR driver and being a farmer is about as far from his future plans as exist.
But, the future of the American family farm is not truly what At Any Price is about. The themes of director Ramin Bahrani's film have more to do with the lengths a parent will go to protect his or her children -- all within the landscape of the cutthroat world of agricultural seed re-selling.
Bahrani also wrote the screenplay with Hallie Elizabeth Newton and it's quite the multi-layered tale. There’s the storyline of Henry’s affair with a local woman (Heather Graham) who also has eyes for Dean, even though he has a loyal girlfriend (Maika Monroe). Then they insert an intensely competitive capitalist subplot involving a rival farm family and their desire to be the number one seed seller in the state.
Each of those plots would have made a great movie. But, all told, it leaves At Any Price a muddled piece of filmmaking. There is a solid film in there. It’s just not what audiences will witness when it hits theaters today.
The biggest flaw has to be a huge twist on which the entire film drastically turns at about the hour mark. We won’t give anything away, but what is left in the plot turn's wake is a film that will leave audiences questioning the morals of all those involved in this entire story.
Each aspect of At Any Price could have been enough to fill out a solid drama from the plotlines of the family farmer having an affair while his son is also being courted by the woman… good movie. Family farmer tries to get his son to take over the business, even though he dreams of NASCAR fame and fortune -- another solid story.
But, our At Any Price review states that what we are shown in the film feels bloated and overwrought with drama. It’s just too much.