There are, it seems, some notable differences between the actual case and what appears on the screen. On the one hand, Percy Schmeiser is portrayed here as a humble country farmer, practically a John Ford or John Steinbeck character earning a precarious living, when in reality he has taken over his family farm, gas station and his farm equipment dealer in 1954. and 12 years before Monsanto crossed town, he had purchased a second farm equipment dealer in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. But Monsanto’s economic might is so overwhelming that these and other changes seem inconsequential: it is indeed a David versus Goliath story, and Monsanto’s case seems so unreasonable and usurious at first glance (the “Tech fees” charged to farmers who accidentally end up with some of their seeds in furrows sounds like an elaborate scam) that it’s impossible to see them as anything other than bullies in need of a takedown.
Walken plays against sentiment here, wisely as well. And while there are a few choices that compromise the film’s sensitive aesthetic (including an overly folkloric-adorable score for the gravity of the situation) Johnson and his collaborators (including cinematographer Luc Montpellier, who has oversaw the epic Western-style compositions for widescreen) perform honorably, for the most part. Of particular interest is Percy and Jackson’s thorny relationship with Rebecca, who begins to seem more interested in using Percy for fundraising than to materially help him win the case; and Percy’s union with his wife Louise (Roberta Maxwell), who walks a fine line between introducing reasonable notes of doubt from the audience and creating a “spoiler” character that seems to stand in the way of a triumph that crowd-pleaser (there is social collateral damage in town, Louise suffers the most).
Frustrated on the edge of the knife of “good enough but not as good as you want it to be,” the film might have benefited from a calmer but focused pace that would have allowed the characters to breathe more, and the legal and the concepts. scientists to explain more clearly. The edit, credited to three people, is sometimes jerky and scattered, tapping on the momentum of the scenes that the actors nail down. But the exceptional cast, beautiful visuals and flawless drama of little guys versus the system carry the film through the finish line.