99 Homes film – The darker side of The American Dream

review by Bojana Duric

Ramin Bahrani delivers a complex drama examining the faults in the desired American dream through the eyes of bankruptcy and real estate evictions. 99 Homes starring Michael Shannon and Andrew Garfield takes audiences on an emotional and moral rollercoaster ride that shadows the faults in America.

Michael Shannon delivers a wickedly cruel performance as Rick Carver, a coldblooded real-estate agent in Orlando, Florida. When families are behind on their mortgages, it’s Carver’s job to force them to vacate the premises only giving them a few minutes to pack up their belongings and be off on their way.

As Carver, Shannon shows no empathy or genuine emotion when the residents are evicted. While the one-time homeowners are staggering around the place trying to pack up anything worth taking, no matter how heartbreaking the sobbing is or how violent the situation escalates, Shannon stands there looking annoyed. He stares down at his expensive watch in his swanky attire with armed officers by his side while the families’ crumble to pieces.

Andrew Garfield plays Dennis Nash a single father and blue-collar worker who is succumbed to giving up his home by the big bad Carver. Nash is hardworking and dangerously desperate, meaning he will do whatever it takes to keep his home and take care of his son and mom, played by Laura Dern. Carver smells the desperation off Nash from a mile away and decides to suck him into his world. He tries to show Nash that he’s not the bad guy all these families make him out to be and he too does whatever it takes to be successful even at the expense of others. Nash starts working for Carver as a builder eventually progressing into Carver’s protégé. Once the evictee now the evictor, Nash sold his soul to the devil and turned into the man he used to despise. Nash quickly adapts to this job and lifestyle before getting a much needed wakeup call from his mom and friend who he is forced to evict.

The harsh reality is that the ninety-nine percent of America is struggling to keep up with the Jones’. Everyone wants to be a homeowner with a white picket fence because that’s one thing that marks success. Carver’s greed and Nash’s desperation mixed with temptation, are the human characteristics that make a system flawed and corrupt. Bahrani’s film examines the harsh reality of the innocent being tangled into a world that doesn’t delegate to them. The director illustrates what happens when the two extremes collide, making the evicting scenes very hard to watch.

From playing the bizarre Nelson Van Alden in Boardwalk Empire and the dangerous Richard Kuklinski in The Iceman, Shannon continues his streak of playing a villain and easily unlikeable character as Rick Carver. Shannon does an amazing job of getting the audience to loathe Carver and what he represents. Then there’s Andrew Garfield, who finally gets to do a role where he doesn’t have to wear a Spiderman suit and gets to showcase some more of his talented dramatic acting skills. His transformation from being evicted to becoming the evictee makes your stomach turn and while watching the film, you desperately hope that he snaps out of it and comes back from the dark side.

99 Homes film review by Bojana Duric


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