At Any Price screened in the Festival Favorites category of the SXSW Film Festival this past March in Austin. The narrative feature was available once on the last day of the festival with the stars from the film in attendance, including Zac Efron, Dennis Quaid and the film director, Ramin Bahrani, who co-wrote the screenplay with Hallie Elizabeth Newton.
By the time this film arrived at SXSW this year, it had already screened at four other film festivals in 2012, including Venice, Telluride, Toronto and Zurich. Then it went on to screen at Tribeca and RiverRun festivals before it opened in limited release in the US on April 26th. While I did enjoy the film despite the flaws that it has, I am still baffled as to how it was accepted into so many famous film festivals. After viewing it for SXSW, I do not think it is the strongest film to have formed part of the festival mainly because of the writing.
The story itself about a farming family and the changes it is going through initially drew my attention, but there are a couple of scenes that bring this film down because of the writing, so then the acting starts to falter. Before I viewed the film at SXSW, I thought this film really has something going for it because of the film’s journey through such reputable film festivals. Sadly I cannot fail to warn viewers there are a couple of potholes in the story and I am not talking about any where the race car drivers are involved.
The actors give it their best to make this film work, but some of the storyline needs help.
Unfortunately, the film is rated R, so I cannot even say it is family friendly and take your kids to this movie during the weekend. This may be about farming families, their communities and struggles, but there is enough violence and sex scenes to make you leave the kids at home. Let’s just say Zac has grown up from his previous high school films.
Dean (Efron) does not want to follow in the footsteps of his father, Henry Whipple (Dennis Quaid) who owns the family farm. Dean is working toward being a professional race car driver, which of course is not sanctioned by his Dad. Of course the viewer can anticipate the clashes between the two and Irene (Kim Dickens) has to come between her husband and son to keep the peace.
Henry is competitive and ambitious about how much he can do, both personally and professionally, so again, the viewer can soon see where this race is headed. Henry is not honest in his marriage or business so everything is on the line.
I do not recommend spending full price on this film, unless you are a diehard Zac Efron fan. You might otherwise be disappointed you spent so much at the theater. In Austin, it opens at the Regal Arbor Theater on May 17th.
Source: Sony Pictures Classics