Nail-biting, recession-themed drama, with Michael Shannon and Andrew Garfield
'Don’t get emotional about real estate,' warns Michael Shannon’s relentless Rick Carver, the man at the centre of Ramin Bahrani’s nail-biting, recession-themed drama 99 Homes. It’s advice he certainly lives by; far more pitiless than Shannon’s fairly underwhelming supervillain General Zod in the recent Man of Steel, rarely, outside of serial killers, has a character as emotionally detached and cruelly dispassionate as Carver been seen on screen.
Set in Florida, the sunshine state brings little warmth to the Orlando residents of Bahrani’s tale, which focuses on those who are failing to keep up with their mortgage repayments and face foreclosure. Carver, an entrepreneurial and corrupt real estate broker, arrives like a sharply attired Angel of Death to deliver the bad news: they only have a matter of minutes to collect their things and leave.
His latest victim is Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield), a construction worker whose trade has taken a particular hit during the economic downturn. Ejected from his childhood home, with his mother Lynn (Laura Dern) and young son Connor (Noah Lomax) in tow, Nash has no choice but to relocate to a motel that's overrun with families in the same dire straits. When Carver offers Nash a job – initially to help clean and repair the repossessed dwellings – this everyman finds himself in a soul-selling moral quandary.
Urban melodrama 99 Homes is rarely subtle and the ending feels a touch too contrived, but this largely excellent effort is a step up from its director's earlier, similarly socially conscious films like Man Push Cart and At Any Price. Aided by electric performances from both Shannon and Garfield, Bahrani stirs his provocations into a fiercely dramatic cauldron. Bubbling over with anger at the ever-increasing wealth divide, it’s searing, sensational stuff.
General release from Fri 25 Sep.