99 Homes Review

Posted 8 years ago by myetvmedia

99 Homes is directed by Ramin Bahrani, stars Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, Laura Dern and Noah Lomax. Another narrative trying to sort out the complexity of our moral responsibility in the wake of financial crises, Ramin Bahrani’s taut and punchy film ’99 Homes’ delivers. Written by Bahrani with Amir Naderi and Bahareh Azimi, the tale follows the efforts of construction worker Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) to retrieve his repossessed home from an unsavoury real estate broker Rick Carver (Michael Shannon). Shannon’s turn as the ‘Wolf of Main Street’ if you will, save the drug fuelled stupor, is pragmatic and ruthless — he not only takes the Nash family home, tossing Nash’s son Connor (Noah Lomax) and mother (Laura Dern) on the street, he then recruits the desperate Dennis to do his bidding in the business of repossessing homes, bilking government bail-out programs along the way with Nash inciting the enmity of folks that were once just like him, trying to save their homes. This is where Bahrani’s story excels, walking the very thin line between moral decency and degradation. He continues to explore our wavering and inexact moral compass when we are protecting our own turf and our loved ones. This is a theme that Bahrani more subtly explores here than he did with ‘At Any Price’ (2012), as that title so aptly suggests. Dennis Nash does not commit murder, but in his singular ambition to win back his home for his son and his mother, he becomes Carver’s unrelenting accomplice in destroying lives, his own greed for rectification resulting in the victim becoming the victimizer. This is as old as the Greeks.

The title’s apparently overt reference to the 99 percent of the population that unwittingly support the privileged 1 percent does not fully capture the film’s jarring portrayal of how the real estate industry is the common man’s Wall Street. Almost everyone can identify with the pressures of home ownership, and so the film’s subject matter strikes a universal chord — unlike the high stakes stock trader world of Oliver Stone’s ‘Wall Street’, Nicholas Jarecki’s ‘Arbitrage’ and more spectacularly Scorsese’s ‘Wolf of Wall Street’, ’99 Homes’ is accessible at the most fundamental level — the prize here is a home with perhaps a pool and peace of mind, not a yacht or villa on an island or glorified status amongst one’s peers. Redemption is also attainable in Bahrani’s film and is sensitively portrayed through the eyes of Nash’s son Connor and his friend Alex Green whose father Frank (Tim Guinee) is one of Carver’s victims. As he was with ‘At Any Price’, Bahrani is deeply invested in the father-son relationship as not only a moral anchor but also a source of both ambition and failed expectations. This takes an unusual twist in ’99 Homes’ where Carver, the perpetrator of misery takes on a fatherly role to Nash, schooling him in the literally ‘real’ world. At the Venice Film Festival presser, Michael Shannon (The Iceman, Boardwalk Empire) and Director Bahrani lit up to this aspect of the film. That Bahrani so ably lays these complexities bare in just over 110 minutes is a remarkable achievement.


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99 Homes Review

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