Up to now, the North Carolina-born independent filmmaker Ramin Bahrani has specialized in stories about immigrants and others on the margins of US society. “Man Push Cart” (2005), “Chop Shop” (2007), “Goodbye Solo” (2008) — these are tiny films with huge hearts. With “At Any Price,” Bahrani moves into middle America and closer to the Hollywood mainstream, with a starry cast and ambitious themes that are rooted in the soil while straining for the Shakespearean. That he doesn’t quite pull it off doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have tried.
Besides, “At Any Price” is worth seeing for Dennis Quaid tearing into his most complex role in years: Henry Whipple, an Iowa farmer, seed salesman for an agribusiness giant, and a hollow man. Henry’s the kind of guy who has a smile and a slick line of patter for everyone he meets. He sees himself as a family man and a pillar of his community, even as he’s cheating his company and cheating on his wife (Kim Dickens) with a local floozy (Heather Graham).