Film review: 99 Homes

Michael Shannon, Andrew Garfield

The opening scene in this film – the suicide of a man faced with eviction from his home – is upsetting and stressful. Set in Florida in 2010 the movie tells the story of the millions of people who lost their homes in the post GFC crisis in America. The main character, Real Estate agent Rick Carver (Michael Shannon) is the man charged with these evictions. He has the full force of the law behind him. The evictions are brutal and leave the families little time to seek assistance or even arrange for a removal truck: “You have two minutes, pack whatever you need”.

A short time later young Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) an employed but unpaid construction worker struggling to support his mother (Laura Dern) and young son, is evicted after the bank forecloses on the family home. Nash soon finds himself signing a deal with the devil as he agrees to work for Carver at first as a jack-of-all-trades repair man then the enforcer of the very same pain of eviction he and his family felt.

The film is directed by Iranian-American Ramin Bahrani who explores the plight of marginalised Americans. The message here is loud and clear as callously stated by Carver: “America was built by bailing out winners not losers”.

Bahrani shows the deep flaws in this housing system where there is no world of limitation. The banking system and government devalued reality in favour of greed which caused many to lose their homes. The finer details of what happened in the American Housing crisis were complex. What this movie shows through Bahrani’s extensive research is that the powerful and wealthy who orchestrated this system did not go to jail but the most vulnerable (lower income earners) lost their livelihoods, homes and tragically in some cases their lives.

The acting performances of the main characters are brilliant and the musical score composed by Australians Antony Partos and Matteo Zingales pulses in the background to a beat that adds to the tension. For the first time, for me, whilst watching a film I felt to upset, tense and angry to eat my choc top. I highly recommend this compelling story to anyone especially those thinking of investing in real estate.

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