Price Check
By Tom Sharp With on February 06, 2012

The promotional poster for Price Check subtitles the film “a comedy with value.” This is an unfortunate choice or language, because this movie is not much of a comedy and it has very little value to offer the audience. Sure, there are some comedic moments, and in all fairness, Parker Posey does an excellent job in portraying the ambitious, driving, sexy boss that takes over as president of a local supermarket chain. The core story idea certainly had potential: a woman in power within a man’s world and how that plays out in the office. But the “value” part really misses because a sexual affair between Posey’s character and Pete Cozey and the lies that cover it up simply find no resolution by film end. Not even a questioning. Instead, Price Check blends into the malaise of passionless moral apathy of a man who is abandoning his dreams to pursue a corporate job to pay for the expenses of his young family. As soon as Pete Cozey sleeps with his boss, instead of remaining faithful, the whole emotional interest for that character went steeply downhill for me. Especially as it was not more than a one time mistake, but became an ongoing thing at the office. Up until that moment, we are rooting for a guy under strong pressure who must live in the tension between advancing a career for the sake of his family and following his heart and dream. I could even buy into the mistakes that Pete makes if the story provides a natural consequence (say his wife showing a little more hutzpah than a one-liner behind a slammed door, when she confirms her intuition). Instead, the film brings no resolution, cuts to black and then shows Pete’s family happily moving on 12 months later as if nothing had happened. By cutting after the first moment of truth of the infidelity coming out and then having no costs or consequences associated with decision make the film not only leave a bad taste in my mouth, but makes the story and the character and even the message, which is supposed to be about the tension of abandoning your dreams of who you are in order to make money to pay for your life. This much more interesting life issue is obscured by the film’s attempt to be “non-judgmental” (this was also said at Sundance in the director’s own personal words), possibly trying to connect to an audience that may judge infidelity as part for the course in young families. The plot certainly overshadowed for me the interesting dynamic of a strong female boss character in a reversal of common corporate roles, and the deeper question of living a dream vs. pursuing economic stability. It could have done much more. As a film the acting of Parker Posey was great, and the shots were interesting and engaging, so there was a decent quality to the aesthetic, but because it misses so strongly on the moral compass, I think the message is muted and the movie will fall flat into the filing cabinets of independent film mediocrity.

About the Author: Tom Sharp

1 Response to "Price Check"

  1. I don’t really consider myself a prude. But I found this film deeply unsettling. Parker Posey plays a boss who seduces her employee, a married man, and subsequently fires him when she realizes that he was the competition for a promotion she had her eyes on. If the boss were a man and the employee a woman, this story would not be very interesting. But Parker Posey’s character oscillates between feminine warmth and masculine ambition. Of course I don’t really like attributing those characteristics to gender differences, but that’s what the director said during the Q&A at the end. He said that this movie is simply a reflection of what his friends experience in their 30s.
    What was striking about this “reflection of friends in their 30s”, is the flippant way in which it dealt with adultery and deception. It was just a fact of life, even a stimulant of function in the working world. It was not central to the story, there was no act of redemption or forgiveness, and not even a scene where we see the man’s process of remorse. Was it telling of this generation? I think it was supposed to be a comedy, but it left me unsettled.

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