(CBS/AP) "At Any Price," director Ramin Bahrani's new film starring Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron, premiered in competition on Friday at the Venice Film Festival.
Bahrani's new movie follows Quaid as Henry Whipple, a fourth-generation farmer faced with the dilemma "expand or die" and his second son, Dean, played by Efron, who sees his future behind the wheel of a race car, not a tractor.
"I really wanted to make a film that any audience could enjoy," Bahrani said in an interview Friday before the premiere. "You can really get wrapped up in the emotions of the characters and the stories. And if they don't want to have the conversation about the economics, society, the politics or the food, they don't have to."
In the film, Quaid's Whipple is cheating on both his wife, with former cheerleader Meredith played by Heather Graham, and on the big genetically modified seed company that supplies him by illegally cleaning seeds to resell. The story is driven by the question of whether he comes clean or covers up - but the moral dilemma presented at the end is much darker.
For Efron, the role was a bit of a risk. His character is rooted in his role as town heart-throb, but with an edge and the kind of youthful temper than can alter a life's course. No one will be surprised to see Efron breaking the heart of his teenage girlfriend, but it is more menacing that it is in a tryst with his father's mistress.
Efron, who came from a small town in Northern California, said he could relate to his character's ambition to move on to bigger things in life.
"My race car was theater. That was my ticket out," Efron said.