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New Release Review - 99 HOMES

An unemployed construction worker takes up a job working for the man who evicted him.


Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Ramin Bahrani

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, Laura Dern, Clancy Brown, Tim Guinee




"Writer-director Ramin Bahrani is one of American cinema's best kept secrets. With Spiderman and General Zod headlining his latest, maybe Bahrani will finally take his place at the head table of adult American drama."





Writer-director Ramin Bahrani is one of American cinema's best kept secrets. His 2008 euthanasia drama Goodbye Solo was one of the most daring US indies of the '00s, but sadly went largely unseen. With a cast including the likes of Dennis Quaid, Zach Efron and Kim Dickens, 2012's At Any Price should have launched him into the mainstream, but is still yet to see a release in Europe. With Spiderman and General Zod headlining his latest, 99 Homes, maybe Bahrani will finally take his place at the head table of adult American drama.
Set in 2010, in the heyday of the recession, 99 Homes is the story of Dennis (Andrew Garfield), a struggling construction worker who finds himself evicted from his home, along with his mother (Laura Dern) and young son, by Rick Carver (Michael Shannon), a cold-hearted real estate broker appointed by the courts to oversee evictions. Desperate for cash, with his family living in a motel room, Dennis accepts Rick's offer of initially performing some handyman jobs across his various properties, but soon the temptation of money leads him to engaging in Carver's not so legal schemes, becoming his right hand man.
99 Homes is a template we've seen before - the naive young hero falls in with a manipulative, charismatic older villain. The movie it owes most to is Oliver Stone's Wall Street, though its recession era setting couldn't be more different from the affluent '80s. But for the likes of Gordon Gekko and Rick Carver, there are always opportunities to make a quick buck at the expense of others. Carver sucks the desperate Dennis in with his cod-philosophy musings: "Only one in a hundred will make it on to the ark; the rest will drown. I'm not drowning!" Dennis doesn't quite buy his boss's worldview, but he's too determined to win his home back to question him. When Dennis is tasked with evicting the family of his son's best friend, his conscience finally starts to eat away at him.
From the beginning, it's easy to see where the narrative of 99 Homes is headed, and there are no twists for anyone familiar with this type of story. But with Bahrani's work, the tale is in the telling, and that's the case here. Shannon and Garfield are ideally cast, the former employing his famed narrow-eyed stare to chilling effect, the latter readjusting his wide-eyed Peter Parker routine as he's emotionally broken a little more with each successive financial reward. 99 Homes feels a few years too late, and doesn't make any profound statements, but at this point in the global economic crisis we don't need a movie to teach us any lessons.



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