Corn belt thriller, real farm family

Expand or Die. Get big or get out. Those are the pressures of a commodity corn growers in the Iowa and the rest of the American Midwest, as portrayed in Director Ramin Bahrani’s new film, “At Any Price.”

Video still from the trailer for "At Any Price."

The movie opens today in limited release, and I haven’t seen it.

But according to reviews, this is not a sentimental view of the family farm, and doesn’t portray a nobler-than-thou family in the heartland. It sounds like Bahrani, and co-writer Hallie Elizabeth Newton, did due diligence to paint a somewhat accurate portrait of life in large-scale agriculture.

Here’s the trailer:

Reviews for Zac Efron, as the son who wants to out of the family’s long-held farm, are good. But according to Slate, “…the breakthrough in “At Any Price” comes from 59-year-old Dennis Quaid, cementing his character-actor renaissance with what may be the nastiest role of his career.”

According to the LA Times, Bahrani, of North Carolina, started looking into agriculture after reading Michael Pollan’s books, including "The Omnivore's Dilemma." He started thinking about trends in organic food and sustainability. "And those things all led to corn," he tells the Times.

"It all coalesced into the realization this was a chance to deal with modern farming, this anti-romantic version of what we imagine the farm to be. These are not small farmers getting crushed by the banks, these are multimillion-dollar farms destroying each other, because they have to, to stay alive. And that was very different from what we think about farms. I found it very telling about where we are."

It may sound nasty, but it’s also refreshing. Real struggles, or at least movie-style struggles, about a farm family. Let’s hope it garners enough interest to get play at theaters in the North Country.

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