Written by Ramin Bahrani, Amir Naderi & Bahareh Azimi
Directed by Ramin Bahrani
Watched on 02.11.2015
“99 Homes” takes a devastating look at the recent economic crisis in the U.S., and puts flesh on the countless number of people who lost their homes due to rising (flexible) interest rates, unemployment, et cetera. Simultaneously, it names and shames those that actually exploit this crisis for their benefit, and also shows the power of money, and how easy it is to get seduced by it.
After Dennis Nash, his son and his mother had to leave their decades-long family home, his only goal is to earn enough money to get it back – even if this means making a deal with the devil, i.e. working for the exact same man who evicted them. However, once he gets accustomed to a better life style, simply getting his old house back isn’t enough anymore. Why not use the money to buy a far better new home for his family? And as quickly as that, he becomes entrapped in the exact same system that fucked him over in the first place. In his quest for more and more money, he loses sight of his original goal, and – more importantly – the wants and wishes of his family. “99 Homes” does a great job in depicting the pitfalls of money and greed in general, and his fall in particular. I already liked the tragic beginning of the story, but said role reversal lead to an even stronger second act, which then culminated into the movies’ strongest scene: The devastating montage of evictions, which simultaneously takes a look at some of the (fictitious) individual victims of the crisis (with the old man an especially harrowing case) as well as the bigger picture (perfectly illustrated by the keys in the jar). It also illustrates how fucked up the whole system is. Unfortunately, the last act in my opinion fell a little bit short compared to the example set by the first two thirds of the movie. The eviction of the house as well as the reaction of this particular family (which is known to Dennis) felt a little overdramatized, and the fact that the forged document was necessary for precisely this family felt rather forced. The real turning point for me, however, already came before, with the man recognizing Dennis at the motel. After that, it started to go downhill a little bit. What was great throughout were the two central performances given by Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon, who shined up until the last frame. However, even they couldn’t completely compensate for the slightly weaker final act. Despite that, though, “99 Homes” is a great drama that would have deserved far more (audience) attention than it received.
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