99 Homes Review: All is Fair When the Bubble Bursts

Photo Credit:http://www.latinpost.com/articles/81695/20150925/99-homes-review-riveting-comentary-mortgage-housing-crisis.htm

The first two acts of 99 Homes are raw and incredibly real. This drama does a spectacular job at the onset of capturing the frustration and anger people felt when the housing bubble burst just a few short years ago. The emotions of the film are always on point, even when the script takes the narrative into some bizarre directions.

The film opens with Rick Carver (Michael Shannon) having failed to evict someone from their home, as blood covers the wall where the tenant shot himself. As an opening scene, it quickly defines the story’s villain as a man hardened by seeing people at their worst while he’s making money. He’s short and sarcastic with his colleagues, who now have to deal with a dead body. But when he’s called out for it, he seems genuinely upset that this is fairly routine for him.

His next eviction is of Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) and his family. Nash is the everyman, the guy who got dealt a bad hand and now unfairly has to live in a shady motel because of it. The definition of fairness is a recurring theme throughout 99 Homes. Is it fair that Nash, after getting evicted himself, can only find work helping Rick evict other people? Is the gorgeous house he’s able to buy with his earnings doing such cold work fair? The film certainly has answers for these questions, but the climax has far too much poetic justice to be able to follow the realism of everything that came before it. There are subtler ways for this story to end, but it goes out guns ablaze like the taut thriller it aspires to be.

But the narrative arc for Nash and Rick still works, even if the events aren’t as grounded as they could have been. Shannon at this point can play hard-nosed villains in his sleep, but he adds enough nuance, especially in that opening scene, to earn him some extra points. Garfield, on the other hand, may have just given the best performance of his career. This script requires more of him than The Social Network did, giving him a wide range of places to take the character over the course of the slightly overlong 2-hour runtime.

Ultimately, there’s a lot more good in 99 Homes than bad. But the bad definitely sticks out. What could have been a truly great film about the economic climate we only recently exited and the complex moral issues surrounding it, ends up being just a good one that fails to come up with a solid ending. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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