Ramin Bahrani’s excellent movie 99 Homes, released this year, starred Michael Shannon as a sinister real estate salesman and Andrew Garfield as his unwilling protege.
It was a fierce drama about the toxic loan crisis, replete with father-son issues.
This film, on the other hand, is the odd, flawed work Bahrani made before 99 Homes; it has many similar themes, but it’s nowhere near as good. Now At Any Price is getting a modest UK release, three years after it premiered at Venice, which is where I first saw it. Dennis Quaid plays Henry, who is worried about the farm that has been in his family for generations but is always teetering near the verge of insolvency.
Zac Efron plays his son, the boy he hoped would one day take it over, but who seems more interested in stock car racing. It’s a strained picture, somewhere between tragedy and soap opera. Perhaps Bahrani aspired to the scale of George Stevens’s Giant, but he can never quite nail the tone, and Quaid’s performance is uncertain. Zac Efron, however, does a reasonable job. He deserves a decent grownup role in a decent grownup film.
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