99 Homes

"Very Good"

99 Homes Review


This harrowing morality play is timely and riveting, but never remotely subtle. The setting is the mortgage crisis, during which savvy fast-talkers figured out how to make a fortune on the back of other people's tragedy. It's strikingly written and directed by Iranian-American filmmaker Ramin Bahrani with an attention to internalised detail, revealing an aspect of Western culture that's deeply disturbing.

It's 2010, and the economy is in freefall as families and small businesses struggle to survive. When Florida builder Dennis (Andrew Garfield) loses his job, he has no idea how he'll support his mother and son (Laura Dern and Noah Lomax). Unable to pay their inflated mortgage, they're evicted from the family home by ruthless estate agent Rick (Michael Shannon). Then Rick sees something in Dennis that he admires, and hires him to do some building work, eventually taking him under his wing and teaching him how to profit from the record number of repossessions. But this means taking advantage of government grants, banking loopholes and people whose lives have collapsed. And it isn't long before it starts eating away at Dennis.

Garfield gives an open, searching performance as this desperate young father who's grasping at any lifeline he can find for his family. It's a complex, difficult character, mainly because his moral dithering sits in contrast to Shannon's flashier, shark-like Rick, who's often scary in the way he's able to avoid empathising with people in pain. In a much smaller role, Dern is the polar opposite, a warm blast of straight-arrow morality who continually prods her son to do the right thing. Yes, these characters are somewhat constructed as three points in a triangle, but they beautifully highlight the issues involved. And the actors dig deep into the emotional ramifications.

As the story progresses, the film begins to feel almost like a heist movie, with Rick and Dennis manipulating each situation for their own gain. As the ethical quagmire deepens, it's clear that something will have to snap, and also that Dennis' conscience is too alert to keep quiet for long. This is a striking depiction of the fallout from greedy banks and corporations, and it vividly portrays the sense of hopelessness people feel when they're crushed by a system that uses its own victims to make even more money. Most shocking is the complete lack of compassion shown by those looking for a quick payout. And it's clear that, as long as it's this easy to bend the law without breaking it, Western society isn't out of the woods yet.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for 99 Homes here:




99 Homes

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 112 mins

In Theaters: Friday 25th September 2015

Production compaines: Noruz Films (I)

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , , Justin Nappi, Kevin Turen

Starring: as Dennis Nash, as Lynn Nash, as Rick Carver, as Frank Green, J.D. Evermore as Mr. Tanner, Noah Lomax as Connor Nash, as Mr. Freeman, Nicole Barré as Nicole Carver, Cullen Moss as Bill, Wayne Pére as Frank's Lawyer, Judd Lormand as Mr. Hester, Gretchen Koerner as Neighbor Friend

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