2008 was the year of global financial reckoning; banks imploded; helium fizzled, at a stratospheric rate, from the real estate market; accountability has yet to be determined; those who believed their homes would always escalate in value were devastated when the reverse occurred; incapable of paying their mortgages, the banks foreclosed on their egregious loans and countless evictions ensued. The state of Florida’s foreclosures were particularly aggressive.
“99 Homes” is brilliantly directed and co-written by Ramin Bahrani (“Goodbye Solo”) and audiences are exposed to two characters, vibrantly, vividly, succinctly portrayed by actors Michael Shannon and Andrew Garfield. Shannon is avaricious, cold-blooded, real estate tycoon “Rick Carver”; he gobbles up foreclosed properties, bereft of sentiment, convinced one man’s ruination is another’s providence.
Garfield is “Dennis Nash”, a struggling construction worker, evicted along with his mother and son, from their ancestral domicile; he falls into Carver’s Svengali clutches, luring him with easy cash into his untoward world; surprisingly “Dennis” adapts and develops into the ideal sycophant; he’s an “evictor” with a conscience.
Shannon and Garfield, equally paired, imbue Rick and Dennis with seething subtlety; wariness informs their relationship; as the scenario unfolds and the balance shifts, both men capitalize on the mettle of their interpretations, resulting in discerning, penetrating performances.
“99 Homes” stupefies with the eviction process; degradation, humiliation suffered by the victims; the possessions of a lifetime, unmasked, splayed across the sidewalks, in front of their children, neighbors; not surprising the suicide rate among evictees is staggering.
The viability and intelligence of “99 Homes” lurks in the gray areas; audiences are left questioning; there is no more satisfying way to leave a film.