As the Venice slate slowly starts ramping up, the critical reactions we have received in the meantime have largely been a conflicted thing. It started with a mildly despondent reaction to Mira Nair's "The Reluctant Fundamentalist", and continues today with a more positivity tinted reaction to a film that has already been met with "boo"s. That happens to be Ramin Bahrani's heavily American "At Any Price", starring an unlikely cast of Zac Efron, Dennis Quaid, and Heather Graham. When a festival feature is met with vocal or physical negativity, such as those who felt the need to leave the "Alps" screening last year, I rarely go in the other direction. The reviews too haven't given as much reason to avoid as reason to adjust expectations, which were malleable in the first place.
Justin Chang (Variety): "The fastidiousness of this sociological inquiry is undeniably impressive, even if it sometimes puts a stranglehold on spontaneity, as in the emergence of a dark third-act twist. The way Bahrani deals with the fallout is at once vaguely unsatisfying and admirably bold in its lack of moral resolution, casting a long shadow of deceit and injustice over the sun-dappled pastoral imagery that closes the picture. Yet the film's truer, more generous heart may rest in an earlier sequence of the characters singing the National Anthem together, their off-key voices isolated one by one, an authentic expression of faith in a community's ability to weather any storm."