99 HOMES – Review by Susan Granger

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Set in Orlando, Florida, this taut, timely thriller begins with a blood-splattered suicide as a suburban home-owner chooses suicide over eviction. Disposing of the mess falls to callous Richard Carver (Michael Shannon) whose crew waits outside. As a real-estate broker, Carver’s business is acquiring foreclosed-upon homes for re-sale – gaming the real-estate market and the government. Read more>>

Next on Carver’s list is the family home of Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield), an unemployed construction worker who is cruelly forced to move his widowed mother, Lynn (Laura Dern), and young son, Connor (Noah Lomax), to a shabby motel room.

Determined to earn enough to reclaim his home, Nash grits his teeth and goes to work for Carver, despite Carver’s ominous warning: “When you work for me, you’re mine.”

First, Nash diligently handles clean-ups; then, he’s stealing air conditioners, appliances and water pumps from abandoned houses and posting ‘vacate’ notices when homeowners cannot keep up payments.

Soon, Nash becomes unscrupulous Carver’s protégé, evicting decent, working people and the elderly, giving them only two minutes to pack up their belongings which are dumped on the curb.

“Frist one’s a bitch, but you get numb to it,” Carver says, adding, “America doesn’t bail out losers,” along with oft-repeated advice: “Don’t get emotional about real estate…They’re boxes. Big boxes, small boxes. What matters is how many you’ve got.”

Although he’s earning a lot of money for the first time in his life, Nash is forced to repossess one home after another, each with its humiliating sob story. Inside, he’s ashamed, wondering: “Is it worth it?”

Melodramatically scripted by director Ramin Bahrani (“At Any Price”) and veteran Iranian filmmaker Amir Naderi from Bahareh Azimi’s story, it’s a simplistic but emotionally effective commentary on the American economy – with its legal and administrative loopholes.

Growing a beard for the first time on-screen, Andrew Garfield (“Spider-Man”) oozes vulnerability and anguish, while Michael Shannon’s (“The Iceman”) conniving cool is almost reptilian.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “99 Homes” is a socially-conscious, empathetic 8, effectively exposing real-estate corruption.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.