Ramin Bahrani's 99 Homes is a tense and topical drama, swirling in controversy and backed by two magnetic performances from Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon.
Ramin Bahrani‘s 99 Homes is an example of exceptional performance-driven filmmaking that hits hard topics with strong drama. Bahrani’s latest film isn’t just a hot subject that can be very relatable. It’s also an emotional experience that’s universally dense, picking at the idea of what a home really means and just how far someone will go to protect theirs and their family. Andrew Garfield swings out of his now-debunk Spider-Man franchise into the hot and heavy with his best performance yet, while Michael Shannon‘s greedy and heartless performance comes loaded with a dark energy that only he can harness.
Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) is a hard-working man that’s simply trying to provide for his single mother and only son. He’s a do-it-all handyman that will roof your house or fix electrical problems if needed. There’s no job that he won’t do if it involves some cash to support his family.
Rick Carver (Michael Shannon) is the opportunistic home snatcher that owns his own real-estate company that specializes in snatching up foreclosed homes and turning a massive profit. He’s so heartless that he offers former homeowners a measly three grand if they promise to clean their property before leaving.
Carver is the kind of guy that loves profiting on the unfortunate and helpless, while Nash is the type of guy that would give you the shirt off of his back if he saw that you needed it.
The two men come colliding when Carver takes Nash’s house and then shortly after offers Nash a job. Strapped for cash, Nash takes the job and swallows his pride as he becomes more like the man that took his house and left him and his family broken.
Nash reasons with himself initially, reminding himself daily that he’s going to work for Carver to get cash and eventually buy his house back, but eventually he starts to enjoy his new life and all of the money that comes with it.
But everything comes at a cost and if it’s not coming directly out of your pocket then it will come out of someone else’s, which Nash slowly realizes as his happiness is tested and defined in Ramin Bahrani‘s 99 Homes.
99 Homes is a topical film that dives right into the house market disaster of America back in 2010, after the Wall Street collapse damn near destroyed the economy.
It picks up at a tender moment for Nash and slowly progresses as Nash begins to pick himself up and find his footing, even if his morals are in serious question.
Bahrani does an excellent job with the film’s script, never pointing a finger directly at Nash and instead sympathizing with him at first. Nash is a living and breathing character that has the most understandable motivations and the film exposes just how beaten down a man can be before he starts to weigh his options in a world that doesn’t bother waiting around for someone to think too hardly about what they’re doing and if it’s right or wrong.
Sometimes people need to eat and they need a roof over their head and they’ll do whatever it takes to make those things possible.
Having both Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon in the film gives the film a strong sense of balance, with Garfield’s young and hopeless Nash being the most human of the two, while Shannon’s aged and sleazy Carver represents your typical bloodthirsty opportunist trying to make whatever buck he can off of other people’s disasters.
Bahrani keeps the focus tight, while Garfield and Shannon help give the film its emotional core and energy.
Garfield might be a bit sad over his losing of the Spider-Man franchise, but 99 Homes is a strong indication that the actor has many great years ahead of him in the business, showing us perhaps his best performance yet.
No longer is he portrayed as a young kid and instead a father struggling to keep things in order for his single mom and only son, without any sort of wife or girlfriend to help keep him balanced. It’s a tall order that Garfield more than fills and then some.
It’s hard not liking or at least laughing at the pure evil of Michael Shannon‘s Carver, because Shannon is a such a gifted actor. He’s explosive and magnetic here, showing us just why he’s always one of the best supporting players around.
He doesn’t exactly steal the film from under Garfield, but he’s the most memorable performance and one that rarely makes you question his beyond questionable motives.
99 Homes is a heavy-hitting drama and probably the only film that will test your emotions over talk of prime real-estate. Never before have I thought about something as simple as a home and how much it can stand for and mean.
Ramin Bahrani‘s 99 Homes is a well-oiled machine, captivating you with its hearty performances and story. I doubt this film will earn much Oscar talk, but it definitely should, because both Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon turn in some solid work, while Bahrani’s direction and writing talents stretch the story far beyond what most will expect out of a little drama about one man losing his house. 99 Homes is about so much more.