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.