99 Homes  : The Men Who Knock
“America was built by bailing out winners. By rigging a nation of the winners, for the winners, by the winners.”
Review by Arun.
A house, for most of us, is more than a place to plant our rugs, furnitures, state-of-the-art technical appliances. We view it as a cornucopia of hope, emotions and memories. We feel it as our life’s achievement. But, Rick Carver in Ramin Bahrani’s “99 Homes” (2015) isn’t gunng-ho about houses. Of course, he owns a lot of houses and his job as real-estate broker demands to exploit the conscienceless capitalist laws for evicting people out of their own homes. Rick belongs to 1 percent of his country’s population, who thrives whichever way the economic climate careens. When we first see Rick, he is looking at a man, who has just shot blown his brains out in the bathroom (fearing eviction). He is irritated about the man’s death and in few words states that he has no empathy for the man. The self-interest, the annoyance Michael Shannon displays as Rick in those first few minutes is so finely drawn that the face of evil rarely looks so humanistic.
Andrew Garfield’s Dennis Nash, a single father & construction worker, is one of the victims of Rick’s foreclosures. But, in an interesting (may be improbable too) turn of events, Nash finds a way out of staying at a cheap motel with his mother (Laura Dern) and son: he makes a deal with the devil. Nash becomes Rick’s protégé and allows the devilish mentor to show him the dubious, but irresistable ways to make money. Nash increasingly justifies his unjustifiable action, until a breaking point clamors at his head. What happens from then is inevitable (if not predictable too).
Director Ramin Bahrani with well-crafted films like “Man Push a Cart” & “Chop Shop” explored the lives of pariahs, dejected from increasingly enclosed socio-economic structure. However, with “99 Homes”, he has tried to build a portrait of an outsider being enamored by the priviliges of belonging to a top-grade class. The choice of characters and actors to deviate from his traditional narrative pays off very well as we rarely see the other side of eviction procedures on films. Mr. Bahrani known for most restrained, graceful notes also shows off his talent to build tightly-wound tense sequences. The righteous anger his frames show towards the legally sanctioned social injustice keeps our blood boiling.
But, where the film falters from being thoroughly exceptional lies in the way the emotional beats are over emphasized. There are resolutions towards the end are neat and too moralistic. Despite, Garfield’s impressive performance, Dennis’ character arc in the second-half is settles into the foreseeable grind. Nevertheless, “99 Homes” should be watched for its rarely tackled socio-political themes and for the towering performance of Michael Shannon. It’s hard not to be strangely capitvated by this guy, who with a mixture of confidence and agitation says “America was built by bailing out winners”.
Review by Nafees
What you do when you are clearly robbed of your rights by the same body who gave you those rights? Does the morality really help you to survive in the world where only law of survival is to break them & cheat on them? 99 Homes weave morality play of human nature in the backdrop of Housing bubble that left many innocent people without a roof on their head, after bank “robbed” their property. Writer/director Ramin Bahrani quintessentially explores the ramifications of House Bubble where bank, law and corrupt bodies, quite cleverly embodies it in the character of real estate broker Rick Carver (Shannon) who perfectly exploits on the worst day of innocent people.
99 Homes functions as a taut thriller that never loses its steam until the third act. Evicted Nash (Andrew Garfield) is on desperate hunt for a job to feed his family of nine-year-old son, Connor (Lomax), and mother, Lynn (Dern). Morally sound, unaware of political & economical functioning, Nash bumps into Rick Carver who he hires him essentially for secondary jobs.Soon, Nash’s dedication promotes him to Rick’s assistant position. As he falls deeper into the gutter of corruption and immoral deeds, he finds himself guilty of doing it. But getting his home back & stable life loses the touch of his own moral consciousness . Amoral Rick consoles Nash by explaining: “America was built by rigging a nation of the winners, by the winners, for the winners.”
Characters are sketched quite brilliantly, pacing is terrific, thanks to Sorkin-esque written script but alas, last act completely takes away the fun when it turns quite formulaic. Has Ramin avoided the most predictable way of closing the film, this would have been another level shit.Still, a good film. Oh, boy! Shannon is cunning.
Review by Shikhar
Above everything 99 Homes is about the desperation of a human being. Its about that single entity in the brain which leads you to hang around the bridge which takes you both ways. It also channels out the fact that the dark side is not always wrong, and the right side is not always right. 99 Home is a powerfully acted human tragedy that works mostly because of a taunt screenplay and its ability to bring out real emotions out of the people watching without being overly manipulative.