First Showing review excerpts:
Nearly every aspect of At Any Price is spectacular, and Bahrani does not miss a single detail. From the very start, which opens with Super 8 cam footage of the family growing up, to the score, to the performances, to the intricate story itself, to the human relationships and characters. Even what the local community thinks of them, and the dynamic relationships between farmers and customers and corporations, it's all there, and all accurately portrayed. It's beautifully shot, tremendously acted (by Quaid and Efron) and honestly, very affecting. The emotional journey this film took me on was phenomenal, and I did not expect it at all.
Bahrani's cast in At Any Price, despite containing some of the first well-known actors he's used, like Zac Efron, Dennis Quaid, even Heather Graham and Clancy Brown, all melt into their characters, delivering powerful performances. Quaid gives one of the best performances he's ever given, and newcomer Maika Monroe (as Efron's young girlfriend) also stands out quite a bit, along with Efron. Believe it. Actors, even those who've given mediocre performances in the past, can be improved by a talented director who knows what he's doing, and inherently knows the story and all the characters in it top to bottom.
The two leads are in fine form here: Quaid poignantly reveals the jumble of insincerity and good intentions beneath Henry's boisterous exterior, while the callow streak that Efron has often displayed as an actor has never felt as raw, vital and emotionally explosive as it does here. Before it reaches a full-blown Sturm und Drang pitch, the tense father-son dynamic feels believably rooted in a long history of resentments and misunderstandings, yet it's also complicated by Dean's willingness to defend his dad against those who seek his downfall.
It's an unusual premise and some of the acting isn't bad, but the story is messy and unsatisfying with a plot-hole you could drive a dozen combine harvesters through, the ending is an outrageous fudge and the lead performance from Dennis Quaid is strange to say the least – for which responsibility must probably be shared between director and actor.
Perhaps oddly, Zac Efron is the one showing us how it's done: a decent, focused performance that isn't trying too hard.
The Ebert article/sort-of review got pulled so out of respect, I'm going to wait until they release it next week (at the right time) to post excerpts.
ETA, Indiewire excerpts:
Given real struggles to convey, Quaid delivers some of his finest acting in the movie's closing scenes, his furrowed brow pointing to a pair of focused eyes that say a lot more than the script's rampant issue-based dialogue. Efron keeps pace with a less demanding but equally tense turn that easily tops anything else in his comparatively shorter oeuvre.