Ramin Bahrani’s robust farmland drama “At Any Price” has been splitting the critics since its premiere at last year’s Venice Film Festival, where it was greeted with scattered boos: some admire its command of old-fashioned melodrama, while others find it gauche and contrived. It’s an unfamiliar position for Bahrani, who received pretty universal adoration for his microbudget features “Man Push Cart,” “Chop Shop” and “Goodbye Solo” — the late Roger Ebert, in particular, was a vocal proponent of his work.
Still, Bahrani was always going to run into some criticism when he moved into beefier, more mainstream storytelling with major stars like Zac Efron and Dennis Quaid. I’m a fan of the new direction, and praised the “brashly inquisitive” film in my Venice review, likening it to the work of George Stevens and Nicholas Ray — but I’m curious to know what the director’s acolytes (and, on the other end of the scale, Efron’s devotees) make of this change of pace. Tell us what you think in the comments, and vote in the poll below. Meanwhile, look out for my interview with Bahrani and Quaid tomorrow.