One of the joys of my job is when I get to throw a spotlight on a worthy project like "Percy vs Goliath." It's been well-reviewed, and another reason to see it is a performance by Christopher Walken that reminds us why he is one of the all-time greats.
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"Some farmers buy their seeds from the big guys every year to plant," says Percy Schmeiser in the new film based on a true story, "I save my own. I'm a seed saver."
His story involves genetically modified seeds that are designed to yield more canola, but Percy insists he never bought Monsanto's seed.
He claims the seed blew onto his land. Monsanto insists the farmer stole its product, so the company sues him. As Percy sees it he, "got sued for doing the same thing my family's been doing for hundreds of years."
A small-town lawyer played by Zach Braff represents him. Christina Ricci has a supporting part as an activist who helps them because as she puts it, "you try to fight them on your own, you will lose!"
The tension builds as the stakes are raised until the case reaches Canada's Supreme Court, where becomes a precedent-setting case.
The new film amounts to a triumph for Christopher Walken more than 40 years after he won an Oscar for "The Deer Hunter." His quiet, low-key performance is a portrait etched in silences and simple gestures, fire and ice.
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If this was just a record of a Canadian court case from the late 1990s, then "Percy vs Goliath" would not resonate as loudly as it does, but what happens here is as vital as the food we all eat. Those implications are made even more clear by Percy's trip to India late in the film.
A farmer there who has lost his son gives Walken a moment I will long remember: the look in his eyes when he sees the photo of the dead man. It's over in an instant but it will touch my heart forever, as only a great performance can.
Percy is a man of few words, and yet this great actor makes each moment mean so much.
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