‘America wasn’t built by bailing out losers. It was built by backing winners’
how is that for an American Dream statement?
Written and directed by Ramin Bahari, that is essentially what 99 Homes is - a statement. A harrowing statement about one of America’s saddest times at that. Set in 2010, just after the financial collapse, banks began to repossess homes, and over the film’s hour and a half running time this is captured authentically, cinematic and expertly. The uncertainty that your home is taken away, every possession that you own or have will be forced onto the sidewalk in stacks, leaving you with nowhere to stay or live.
Focal to the film’s narrative is Andrew Garfield’s character, Daniel Nash – and unfortunately this is the very thing that happened to him, his son and mother (Laura Dern) within the first few minutes of the film. Evicted by Michael Shannon’s character Rick Carver, Nash somehow finds himself doing a deal with the devil and assisting Carver in evicting others families in the exact same way he was as a full-time job. It’s distressing, tense and Garfield translates the slipping morality with gentility.
As dire as it may sound, some of the films best scenes are those where people are evicted. Old, young, English-speaking or not – it focuses on all angles and captures the experience onto screen as if you were there witnessing and feeling it too.
Throughout, Andrew Garfield’s performance is convincing as he journeys into a dark path of self-discovery, pain and desperation. Opposite, in the vampiric character of Rick Carver is Michael Shannon’s Old-Testament, cold and precise character in a monstrous job.
It’s tough, emotional – but dramatic to watch. The only thing that lets it down is almost a paradox - where the emphasis on political and capitalist society is overwhelming on the stories totality. It loses balance every now and then where the OTT corporate-ness gets too involves and it moves away from the films heart. The desperation that the people are left in with nowhere to live. Imagine that happening to your family and what choices you have? That should have been the centre of the film. Not corporate measures and political statements. But overall it is a recommended watch.