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April 29, 2013

'At Any Price' Explores Harsh Realities of Rural Life

by Penelope Poulou

Filmmaker Ramin Bahrani and actor Dennis Quaid join forces in the new drama, At Any Price, which explores the survival of a rural American family amidst today’s farming giants and seed monopolies. 

Iowa farmer Henry Whipple knows what’s at stake and will stop at nothing to expand his holdings.

Henry’s ruthlessness does not win friends. But as the title implies, the story is about economic survival, whatever the cost. 

Filmmaker Bahrani, the son of Iranian immigrants, sees America as a dynamic country of immigrants that re-invents itself to grow. His film reflects the idea that growth can come from strife.

“The heartland is not this romantic vision of yokels and overalls," he said. "These are very sharp shrewd men with telephones that are checking commodities, prices, and if by chance there is political instability in China, they would quickly shift what they are doing.”

Quaid offers a multilayered performance as Henry, a man who has lost his way. His relationship with his son is crumbling and his marriage is on the rocks.

“He has this vision of the way things used to be and, in his mind, the romantic vision of the family farm," Quaid said. "But the pressures of this big business have caused him to go into some corrupt practices. He presents this confident exterior to the world but he’s hiding the way he feels inside. He feels that he’s losing his soul.”

Henry survives the scrutiny of a corporation that suspects he is reselling their patented seeds.

“In the end of the film, Henry has gotten everything that he wants, which he wanted to have," Quaid said, "but at the same time there is a haunting that’s there.”

At Any Price uses a rural setting to address the human condition.