Directed by Ramin Bahrani
After his family is evicted from their home, proud and desperate construction worker Dennis Nash tries to win his home back by striking a deal with the devil and working for Rick Carver, the corrupt real estate broker who evicted him.
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★★★★ review by Jonathan White on Letterboxd
TIFF 2014 film #9
Reasons for pick: Director Ramin Bahrani, Goodbye Solo / Chop Shop
Director Ramin Hahrani grabs you by the collar right from the first shot; dragging you around a chaotic scene beginning with a partially obscured suicide by gun victim, and the attendant mess. You’re dragged through rooms filled with police, sobbing family members, and general chaos. It’s here we’re introduced to Michael Shannon’s Rick Carver. We don’t know who he is at this point, but we certainly know he’s the centre of attention.
Let’s be clear right from the outset. This is Michael Shanon’s film. He owns it. He owns it completely. There’s not a scene where you’re not glued to his every word; his every expression. A speech he gives about who and what has made him the heartless monster he is today rings terrifyingly true, and is one of the most powerful I’ve heard in recent memory. If Shanon gets an Oscar nomination … which he completely deserves .. I guarantee this will be the clip they use. Andrew Garfield is competent and convincing as the beset Dennis Nash; a victim of the cruel economy who is willing to do just about anything to keep his head above water, but it’s hard to shine when you have the supernova brilliance of Shanon in almost every scene.
99 Homes is a mixture of socio-economic commentary, and observation on the human survival instinct, but, it never forgets what it really is; a taut drama whose goal is to entertain. To this end, it follows a predictable Hollywood formula, and doesn’t miss a beat.
If you’re in the mood for a riveting drama with a splash of social commentary you certainly would be hard pressed to do better than 99 Homes.
★★★½ review by davidehrlich on Letterboxd
Ramin Bahrani’s Magic Mike – less dick, more dicking over. blistering moral thriller is rote, but righteously clear-eyed. Bahrani is such an old school Ford-ian moralist that it's hard not to just smile and roll with the narrative conveniences that come along with that. and the cast sure is good.
★★★½ review by Filmspotting on Letterboxd
A solid companion to THE BIG SHORT – that I wish I had finished before casting a few critics ballots considering how bereft of compelling performances 'best actor' is this year. The burden of every rationalization and soul-sucking, ethically-dubious choice adds about 10 years to Andrew Garfield's slight frame and boyish face.
★★★½ review by TajLV on Letterboxd
"What did you do wrong that your family lives in a motel?" ~ Rick Carver
Being evicted from your childhood home has got to be one of the most stressful, embarrassing and degrading things that can ever happen to a person. This film by writer-director Ramin Bahrani starts off with not one but two such evictions, the first resulting in a suicide and the second in the devastating displacement of a Florida family consisting of unemployed construction worker Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield), his adolescent son Connor (Noah Lomax) and Dennis's mother Lynn (Laura Dern).
The guy in charge of the eviction process on behalf of the mortgage-holding bank is vapor-smoking realtor Rick Carver (Michael Shannon), accompanied by Sheriff Anderson (Randy Austin) and his men. But Carver isn't without a conscience or a profit motive. He offers Nash a job working for him, cleaning up distressed properties, reporting freeloaders and installing cheaply obtained fixtures. In no time, Nash is making some serious dinero.
Of course, there's some deceit involved. Carver has Nash scamming the government over missing air conditioners, pool filters, and fake tenants occupying vacant properties. There are thousands of dollars to be gained in scams related to foreclosures, and Carver knows them all. But Nash's real objective is to get his family home back, and that suddenly seems possible with Carver's help. And as Nash gets sucked deeper into the world of easy money, he convinces himself he's being smart.
This film won Bahrani two awards at Venice, plus a nomination for the Golden Lion. Shannon received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor, too. Given the current state of the U.S. economy, this is a very relevant topic that's bound to interest anyone who's ever had a problem making a rent or mortgage payment. Kudos to Bahrani for taking up such a current dilemma.
★★★★ review by Esteban Gonzalez on Letterboxd
"Don't get emotional about real estate."
99 Homes is a powerful drama that resonates with the current economic state of the United States in the same way that Wall Street did in the 80's. Michael Shannon's Rick Carver as a realtor who makes his living by evicting families from their homes and cheating on the bank system, is in a way the modern Gordon Gekko (a character that turned Michael Douglas into an iconic figure for business people around the globe). 99 Homes is a morality play and a film about greed which poses interesting questions as to how far one would go to achieve the American dream. The film could be a great companion to McKay's The Big Short which focused on the housing bubble collapse, although this film focuses exclusively on the real estate brokers who managed to make a fortune upon the disgrace of the hard working blue collar families. Director, Ramin Bahrani, however doesn't try to turn Carver into a charismatic character. He is a greedy, selfish, calculating, and cold blooded man who doesn't care one bit about the families he is evicting from their homes. There is no glorification of his character whatsoever and it truly shows what kind of person you have to be to live with such low morals.
Andrew Garfield's Dennis Nash on the other hand is the character the audience can relate to because he goes through a deep struggle as Carver's protege to accept his new line of work. Dennis was a former construction worker who due to the real estate crisis is left without a job. He lives with his mother, Lynn (Laura Dern), and his young son Connor (Noah Lomax) in the family home he's always grown up in. Unfortunately due to the current economic situation he is evicted from his home by Carver who shows up at his door and gives him two minutes to take his belongings and move out. As much as he hates the situation there isn't anything he can do so he is forced to relocate his family in a nearby cheap motel. After realizing his tools are missing during the eviction, Dennis goes to confront one of Carver's handymen. Dennis arrives at the right time because a crisis ensues and Carver realizes that his construction experience can come in handy. Despite not liking his boss one bit, Dennis begins to realize there is an easy way to make money and he justifies his actions by wanting to give his son a better life. The question then becomes how far Dennis will be willing to go to be like the man he despises.
Ramin Bahrani isn't a director that many people know because he has made several small independent films, but if you were an avid reader of Roger Ebert's film reviews then you know Bahrani was one of those small directors that he had high praise for. That is how I actually ended up hearing about his movies and decided to check out Goodbye Solo, a film focusing on two strangers who form an unlikely bond. Bahrani is passionate about delivering social films and you can see traces of it here in this much bigger film. The cast elevates the material even more as both Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon deliver superb performances. There was even some talk of Shannon receiving an Oscar nomination, but his work was overlooked once again. 99 Homes works as a morality play but it still is concerned on the social issues present in today's world. It might not have the same character development and dynamics that we saw in Goodbye Solo, but that is because there is so much more suspense and thrills going on here. I personally prefer his smaller films, but this was a memorable film that still remains provocative and resonant in today's economy.
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