At Any PriceApril 27, 2013
A farming family's business is threatened by an unexpected crisis, further testing the relationship between a father and his rebellious son.
Release Year: 2012
Rating: 5.6/10 (378 voted)
Director: Ramin Bahrani
In the competitive world of modern agriculture, ambitious Henry Whipple wants his rebellious son Dean to help expand his family's farming empire. However, Dean has his sights set on becoming a professional race car driver. When a high-stakes investigation into their business is exposed, father and son are pushed into an unexpected crisis that threatens the family's entire livelihood.
How far would you go to chase a dream?
Filming Locations: DeKalb, Illinois, USA
Less About a Payoff; More a Thoughtful Study About American Values
From my thoughts about the film in my special Toronto coverage.
At Any Price
Iranian-American helmer Ramin Bahrani is fascinated with slices of
American life that most Hollywood films today ignore. In his first
three efforts, shot on shoe-string budgets in a neo-realist style
familiar to fans of Middle East films of the past decade or so, we get
absorbed into the everyday minutiae of his characters. There was the
Middle East immigrant in New York City who runs his gift shop stand in
Man Push Cart (2006), that resourceful Latino street orphan who works
on a scrap-metal row behind old Shea Stadium in Queens in Chop Shop
(2007), and the African cabbie in Goodbye Solo (2008).
At Any Price finds Bahrani exchanging neo-realism for a classic
American style familiar to a bygone Hollywood era that produced
Breaking Away (1979) and Silkwood (1983), while keeping intact his
curiosity with everyday American life. Set in present-day Iowa with a
pulse on our tense economic times, we follow enterprising farmer Henry
Whipple (Dennis Quaid, in what may be his best performance), a tragic
character who now secures the Willy Loman place in American movies that
had been occupied for some time by Kevin Spacey's Lester Burnham in
American Beauty (1999).
Whipple, as he loves to remind us, is the largest seller of seeds in
seven Iowa counties, second only to Jim Johnson (Clancy Brown). His
eldest son Grant, who he idealizes, is off mountain-climbing in the
Andes while his party-boy younger son Dean (Zac Efron) races cars,
leaving dad and mom (a powerful, understated Kim Dickens) to run the
A rich and textured story, this movie is less about building to a
payoff than it is a soul-searching study of modern American values.
What is astonishing is how Bahrani sees the glory of America and the
trouble with her all at a level gaze. There may not be a
better-directed sequence in American movies this year than one that
takes place here at a race track where all of the major characters are
assembled, singing the national anthem. Beneath its raw, physical
appeal is a fundamental question about the price that is paid in the
soul for winning at all costs at the detriment of your neighbor. This
is a great American film.