time 105 minutes.
Although I had been vaguely aware of genetically modified food products,
I learned about it in a lot of detail when I recently read the book
Wheat Belly. I took that advice to heart and gave up eating wheat,
which I learned is a far cry from the natural wheat our parents and
grandparents ate, and that what we eat now has unexpected side effects.
Bahrani, who directed and wrote a terrific script (with Hallie Elizabeth
Newton), has created a devastating indictment of modern agriculture and
genetically modified seeds (GMO), based on an actual incident that he
discovered while doing his research. He stayed with a farmer he had met
earlier, Troy Roush, who explained to him how he had been investigated
by Monsanto for patent infringement in the use of Monsanto’s GMOs and
how two agents followed him around. Facsimiles of those agents appear in
Quaid gives an Oscar®-quality performance playing Henry Whipple, a
third-generation farmer growing corn and selling GMO seeds. Although
Henry is devoted to his family, he seems to spend much of his time as a
salesman, and a self-centered one at that. He’s got a devoted wife,
Irene (Kim Dickens, in a fine performance) and two sons. One of the
sons, Dean (Zac Efron) is more interested in becoming a NASCAR race
driver than taking over the family farm. Dean has a cute girlfriend,
Cadence (played in her film debut by Maika Monroe, in a performance that
marks her as a real comer). Henry is cheating on Irene with Meredith
(Heather Graham). There are other relationships with other farmers and
their families that come to have ravaging effects on the Whipple family.
is brilliantly cast in this role. He can flash his fantastic smile at a
moment’s notice, regardless of what’s going on inside. He is required to
express a wide range of emotions in this film and he never fails.
also gives an exceptional performance as the dissatisfied son. Things
progress as they do in real life, as the problems of the Whipple family
keep piling up. While this is dramatic, it is so well presented that it
looks like we are viewing real lives as they unfold as lives do.
has directed a socially valuable and entertaining film. This is a view
of farm life that shows it to be far from what most people in the city
imagine it to be, abetted by the outstanding performances of the entire