99 Homes

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Directed by Ramin Bahrani
Starring Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon and Laura Dern
99 Homes is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD

by Joanna Orland

Minimalist, realistic and dire, 99 Homes is a beautifully bleak drama pertaining to social class and the lure of the One Percent idea of privilege.  Intelligent script and direction along with downplayed stellar performances from Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon makes this one of the most relevant films representing modern day America.

The year is 2010 and Rick Carver (Shannon) is a realtor working in Orlando, Florida who specializes in foreclosures.  Carver first meets Dennis Nash (Garfield) when Dennis is being evicted from his home alongside his mother (Dern) and young son.  Carver coldly evicts the Nash family on behalf of the bank, a business for which he makes a very good living off of as he then sells on the empty houses for large profits.  Shannon has often played some sinister villains, but even General Zod has got nothing on sociopath Rick Carver.  Subtly portrayed but blatantly selfish to the core, Carver is a man who is only looking out for himself, even when offering Dennis paid work.

Dennis is lured into Carver’s corrupt world in an effort to buy his family home back for his mother and son.  Whether Dennis is the protagonist or a very complex villain in his own right, what begins as a desperate attempt to gain his home and life back ends with Dennis living the life that Carver lives, with much moral ambiguity.  As Dennis gets deeper into Carver’s world, he begins to take over the job of evicting families and dubious duties of filing ambiguously legal paperwork.  Dennis is conflicted and suffering through each eviction, some bleaker than others.  Through its strong sense of realism, this film is a very difficult watch, especially at these points depicting a very common every day situation in 2010 America.

I generally like Andrew Garfield’s work, but as Dennis Nash the actor truly exemplifies the tragedy of the 2010 economic downturn.  His performance is subtle, heartfelt and authentic.  Michael Shannon plays very well against Garfield as the villain, also putting in a subtle performance that with the mere inhale of an E-cigarette can speak a thousand evil words.

A pertinent thriller with fantastic acting, Ramin Bahrani‘s 99 Homes is sadly a perfect portrait of today’s America.


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