Set in the world of modern agriculture, Ramin Bahrani's At Any Price follows Henry Whipple, an ambitious and hardworking man who works night and day to expand his family's farming empire. Henry desperately looks to his son, Dean, to help with the family business but Dean has plans of his own in trying to become a successful race car driver. When the family business comes under investigation for illegal tactics, father and son find themselves in the middle of an unexpected crisis threatening their entire livelihood. Ramin Bahrani has been responsible for some of the better American independent films in recent years (Goodbye Solo, and Chop Shop) with his penchant for slow paced films being the major obstacle to mainstream acclaim. With At Any Price he has created by far his most accessible film for general consumption but unfortunately that ends up hurting the quality of his film tremendously. At Any Price is a film that is soaked in melodrama with plot point after plot point that's only purpose seems to be to create drama at every turn. That alone really isn't a problem but because of this some of the drama doesn't feel organic, merely placed their to create dramatic action. Dennis Quaid's Henry Whipple is the glue which holds this film together, a man who lacks the ability to see the difference in importance between the family business and the family itself. He feels the pressure from his father to keep the family business strong and passes that pressure unknowingly to everyone around him. Dennis Quaid's performance was without question the highlight of the film for me and it could very well be the best of his career. The third act is really when Henry is awakened to the importance of his family, and while some will find it extremely dramatic, I found the last portion of the film to be the strongest because of its emotional resonance. There is no denying that Ramin Bahrani is a talented filmmaker, and even in a film where he misses the mark there are glimpses which remind you of his talent. My favorite being a sequence before one of Dean's big races where the Star Spangled Banner is sung. Known for his slow moving dramas, At Any Price doesn't really feel like one of Bahrani's films, being polar opposite in its desire to go overly dramatic to the point where I began to question whether outside influences affected the film.
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