Price Check


At what point do the responsibilities of marriage and family supersede those of personal actualization and dream fulfillment? A lot of people would say “at the moment of conception,” while others might suggest that kids are just along for the ride, anyway. Go ahead and found that puppet theater or artisanal ukulele atelier you’ve always dreamed of, and just pack the kids to junior college at 18. Director Michael Walker’s Price Check presents a miniature Faust story in which Peter (Ugly Betty‘s Eric Mabius), a husband and new father, grinds away precious hours of unrecoverable life in the fluorescent-lit head office of a failing chain of supermarkets. The company sends in Susan (Parker Posey), a tornadic new vice president with a terrifyingly unstable personality and epic professional ambitions. Recognizing Peter’s intelligence and stability, she immediately bullies him into naming the office’s worst performers (whom she fires) before doubling Peter’s salary and enlisting his help to ram a difficult new business model past the board. She barges into his personal life, befriending his wife and inviting herself to parties at his child’s school and to his house on the holidays. During a business trip to Los Angeles, she seduces Peter with an insane but persuasive invitation to impregnate her. Is his halved and compartmentalized life a fair price to pay for his rise in prospects and income? Mabius is understated and sympathetic as a guy who makes some dickish choices, and Susan, played by anyone else, might be a completely unrelatable force of nature. Although Posey renders Susan’s instability and dominance with gusto, the character’s vulnerability and pain are manifest.