At Any Price
In what might seem from the outset like a Hollywood-lite look at the Bowman v. Monsanto case recently heard by the Supreme Court, director Ramin Bahrani's awkward but at least absorbing drama gives Dennis Quaid some good scenery to chew as a heartland seed salesman losing control of both his family and his farm. His grounded wife (Kim Dickens), plainly aware of his harpy ex-cheerleader mistress (Heather Graham), understandably wonders why this man can't be happy with what he has. But then, his rebellious son (Zac Efron) would rather drive race cars than inherit the family business, which, under dad's dubious stewardship, already has run afoul of a litigious genetically modified organism company. It is safe to say the situation deteriorates. Co-scripting with Hallie Newton, Bahrani reaches beyond the intimate simplicity of his previous feature, Goodbye Solo, and seems to be grasping for grand American tragedy. Solemnity prevails, but subplots don't fully cohere, and the filmmaker's ambition ultimately gets the best of him.