Of all the director/actor pairings of the year, the one between the acclaimed, but so far firmly arthouse-y Ramin Bahrani, the helmer of “Man Push Cart” and “Goodbye Solo,” and Zac Efron, fresh-faced star of the “High School Musical” franchise, is one of the most curious. But after festival plaudits and rave reviews, Bahrani seems ready to break out to a wider audience, while Efron, to his credit, is looking to be taken seriously as an adult leading man, showing up at Cannes with (the admittedly badly received) “The Paperboy,” and attaching himself to the remake of “Easy Money” and the Nicholas Stoller/Seth Rogen comedy “Townies,” among others.
And so, “At Any Price” came to pass. Bahrani’s biggest and most high-profile film to date stars Efron as an aspiring race car driver whose father (Dennis Quaid) wants him to help run the family farm, only for the business to be threatened when it comes under investigation. A number of other recognizable faces are in the cast, including Heather Graham, Clancy Brown and Kim Dickens, but it’s the intriguing, very un-Bahrani-like duo of Efron and Quaid who seem to lead the picture, and with the film set to premiere at Venice before heading to TIFF next month, hopes are certainly high for the film.
Not least from Sony Pictures Classics, as according to a press release, the company just acquired the film for North America (and Eastern Europe) ahead of its festival premiere. “Ramin Bahrani is a major American film maker. We’ve wanted to work with him for some time. He is a great storyteller not afraid of serious or big subjects. When we read ‘At Any Price’ we knew this would be a great leap forward for him as a successful director offering great roles for major actors. We are so happy to be bringing the film to the American audience and to be in business with him…” The director adds “I am very happy to be working… Sony Pictures Classics who have been releasing some of the most important films for over two decades”
It’s definitely good news for the film, and certainly makes us wonder: are SPC planning to put the film out this year for an awards play? The company have high hopes for foreign language fare “Rust & Bone” and “Amour,” but their sole American film is Sundance hit “Smashed,” so they’ve certainly got room for another film to push, if reviews come out the way they normally do for Bahrani. We’ll presumably find out their release plans fairly soon, and we’ll bring you our verdict on “At Any Price” when the film premieres in Venice in a few short weeks.