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Aug 30th
07:25 pm
'At Any Price' Venice Reviews  
Excerpts from THR, David Rooney:
The characters played by Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron in At Any Price could almost be contemporary American agricultural family counterparts to Arthur Miller’s Willy and Biff Loman. Their conflicts don’t resonate on the same scale as Death of a Salesman, but Ramin Bahrani’s accomplished, well-acted film is an engrossingly serious-minded heartland drama, rich in moral ambiguity, that examines the challenging relationship of fathers and sons in the difficult terrain of modern commercial farming.

...

Particularly impressive is Quaid, who goes beyond his usual easygoing masculinity to convey the craggy gravitas of a man fixated on building his legacy and heedless of the compromises that entails. It’s to the actor’s credit that Quaid refuses to soften a blowhard character whose surface affability masks an encroaching unscrupulousness. Efron does equally strong work. Continuing to distance himself from his origins as a pretty-boy teen idol, he brings an intense, brooding stillness to the screen here, simmering with the frustrations of small-town entrapment.

Excerpts from Hitfix, Guy Lodge:
It put me more in mind of the muscular Hollywood melodramas crafted by the likes of Nicholas Ray and George Stevens in the 1950s, back when star-driven character dramas about middle American insecurities were still big business -- and not just because Bahrani's improbably secured the services of dreamboat Zac Efron, who looks more like a studio raffle prize circa 1957 with each passing film.

Bahrani doesn't romanticize the human values of this faintly out-of-time society -- a late-film gesture of folksy generational baton-passing from Henry to Dean rings disturbingly and deliberately false, given the secrets being guarded by this point -- but he's content to spend time on problematic protagonists who aren't patronized as either local heroes or matchstick men of tragedy.

The performances are on much the same page. Efron does some solid, creditably unlikeable work here as the impetuous Dean, and Dickens brilliantly elevates her tersely written role his as his careworn mother, socking the equivalent of the Laura Linney moment as the film's finale turns eerily "Mystic River" in tone. But it's an ideally-cast Quaid, whose performance could well net some awards attention if pitched right by Sony Pictures Classics, who has to shoulder the bulk of the film's moral burden, as he's gradually forced out of his rehearsed, sitcommy "American everyman" patter and into a subdued admission of an actual everyman's shortfall between self-worth and self-doubt. There is, to requote a vexed Italian critic with a slightly different emphasis, a lot of America in this film.

That review is worth a read as it gives valuable perspective on why some European critics there were displeased with how American the film is.

Excerpts from The Playlist, Oliver Lyttelton:
It’s a film on a fairly intimate scale, but dealing with big, modern themes – the cost of the American dream (as the title might suggest), the destructiveness of competition, the sacrifices parents make for their children and vice versa, and what people will do in order to survive. And being told in the form of an good old-fashioned melodrama, closer to “Giant” or “Death Of A Salesman” then anything else, it risks being unfashionable, and indeed the film was the first we’ve seen in Venice to receive a few scattered boos as the credits rolled.

We’d certainly suggest that those boos are unfair, even if we don’t unreservedly love the film...

Efron starts strongly, very reminiscent of twenty-something Tom Cruise somehow (maybe it was just the race driver uniform), but the strain sometimes shows as his character moves into self-destructive inarticulacy. It’s probably his best performance to date, but James Dean he ain’t, at least at this stage.


 
 
Mood: tiredtired
18 18 comments Comment
 
 
Miranda gives everyone a chancemirandagirll on August 31st, 2012 01:31 am (UTC)
Most of the reviews are positive. Or at least are seeing Zac as a more credible actor now. Now I'm just hoping for more positive reviews from Telluride and TIFF. I don't understand how some were "shocked" with how "American" it was. I mean Bahrani's other films aren't as American, but the little bit of plot we got kind of reinforces that it was going to be more "American" than his other movies.

This part of The Playlist review I think is the most interesting after Zac's performance reviews:
"At Any Price" is certainly one of the most impressive reactions to the recent economic crisis that cinema has produced so far."

Edited at 2012-08-31 01:33 am (UTC)
kleth on August 31st, 2012 01:49 am (UTC)
"...it gives valuable perspective on why some European critics there were displeased with how American the film is."

It's an American story filmed by an American director with American actors and settings. Just how "European" did they expect it to be? Assholes.
abigail80831abigail80831 on August 31st, 2012 02:36 am (UTC)
Haha I was thinking the samething.

Umm its an American film, of course it is going to be "American like" haha I found that kinda funny but whatever.
redundancy is not elaborationthelightisdim on August 31st, 2012 03:05 am (UTC)
I don't think it is exactly that what they were complaining about.

There are several movies with those same characteristics (all-american crew/cast) but that anyone in the world can still relate. I haven't seen the movie or read the script but from what I'm getting, this film shows a very specific part of the US, therefore making some people, who aren't familiar with it, bored.

It is all a matter of taste imo. I don't think showing a very characteristic part of America is an issue and, again based on reviews, Bahrani nailed that aspect, so, congratulations to him.
kleth on August 31st, 2012 01:59 pm (UTC)
"this film shows a very specific part of the US, therefore making some people, who aren't familiar with it, bored."

"aren't familiar" might be replaced with "are antagonistic."

I have watched many foreign films, set in foreign lands and telling stories that are unique to those settings. I find these films enlightening. Of course, if I were resentful of those countries, I might find the same films tedious and annoying.
redundancy is not elaborationthelightisdim on August 31st, 2012 05:18 pm (UTC)
I agree with you 100%. I think they found it boring because they don't like America.

I was just trying to be more diplomatic, lmao
kleth on August 31st, 2012 01:54 am (UTC)
"good old-fashioned melodrama, closer to “Giant” or “Death Of A Salesman”

Keep making those kinds of comparisons, guys, please.
annabelle83 on August 31st, 2012 02:04 am (UTC)
It's little too early to judge, but it seems AAP turned out at least alright. I was little concerned after reading some tepid/bad twitter responses, but they don't matter much. Official reviews are often very different from initial twitter responses, for example: The Tree of Life. One Italian critic tweeted that AAP is a fascist movie. I don't know what that means.

Anyway, Zac is getting nice reviews, and the comparison to Cruise really pleases me. Being compared to young Cruise is not an insult! It seems Zac is getting overshadowed by Dennis Quaid in reviews, but young Tom Cruise was also overshadowed by his older co-stars like Paul Newman and Dustin Hoffman before he bounced right back with Oscar-nominated performance in Born on the Fourth of July. I really hope Zac gets an amazing role soon. Regardless how the consensus turns out to be about AAP, I pray this movie will finally help Zac to get recognized by other directors. He's not on most director's radar, and that's the biggest problem right now.

Edited at 2012-08-31 02:05 am (UTC)
Miranda gives everyone a chancemirandagirll on August 31st, 2012 02:08 am (UTC)
"One Italian critic tweeted that AAP is a fascist movie."

That's like the pot calling the kettle black, lol.
Shruti: tv: tomatocalcified on August 31st, 2012 02:04 pm (UTC)
omg................
Miranda gives everyone a chancemirandagirll on August 31st, 2012 02:17 pm (UTC)
Italian dictator Mussolini pretty much started the fascist party during WW1, so for an Italian person to say anything that's not Italian is fascist is ironic.
kleth on August 31st, 2012 02:08 pm (UTC)
" It seems Zac is getting overshadowed by Dennis Quaid in reviews"

No problem, in fact, that's good. Zac is not going to be accepted into the mainstream until he is seen as a working actor, not a teen idol. Let the critics focus on Dennis or Nichole, then they can give Zac a fair look.

My greatest concern is that Zac's former teen-idol status makes critics watch him intently. Even if he isn't the top dog in a movie, reviewers feel they have to say something. So he gets scrutinized for little moments when they can claim he falters or misplays his character.

When Paperboy opens, Zac is going to get a lot more critical scrutiny than John Cusack, for example, when they should be considered equally as players.
kleth on August 31st, 2012 02:13 pm (UTC)
"It's little too early to judge, but it seems AAP turned out at least alright."

I think we can conclude that it turned out more than alright. I don't know how it will do at the box office, but I think the critical consensus is going to rate it highly, even if this or that critic has some lint to pick here or there.
lilly4848lilly4848 on August 31st, 2012 01:59 pm (UTC)
"Efron does some solid, creditably unlikeable work here as the impetuous Dean"

Okay, I really can't figure out how to interpret this.
kleth on August 31st, 2012 02:10 pm (UTC)
Zac's character is supposed to be a jerk, so "creditably unlikeable work" is a compliment.
Gillian loves lemoñadé.invisible_cunt on September 1st, 2012 01:38 am (UTC)
my friend is selling me her gala ticket for the tiff premiere
hoping that i get to sit near him
hunny miss (aka lets fead him to the gators)ehs_wildcats on September 1st, 2012 01:58 am (UTC)
nice!

tell him to stop doing shitty rom-coms, lol.
zacefronfan26 on September 4th, 2012 06:16 am (UTC)
Cool so your planning to see the movie that's great have fun.