I’ve just had the pleasure of watching the 2014 American drama film by Ramin Bahrani, 99 Homes.
Recently unemployed single father Dennis Nash, a construction worker in Orlando, Florida, is evicted together with his mother Lynn, a hairdresser, and young son Connor from the foreclosed home they share. Real estate operator Rick Carver is in charge of the eviction, and police officers who provide the enforcement call him “boss.” Dennis and his family move into a shabby cramped motel room. Dennis goes to Rick’s office and tries to take back his tools stolen by Rick’s men. Rick sees the confrontation and is impressed by Dennis’ gumption.
He offers Dennis work as a repairman at his properties and Dennis accepts. Dennis soon becomes Rick’s assistant, helping to carry out evictions himself and set up real estate schemes that exploit government and banking rules to the disadvantage of struggling home owners. He starts accepting large payments of money (in exchange for the work he is performing for Rick) and dips into the glamorous lifestyle in which Rick indulges.
Almost as soon as he begins working for Rick, Dennis tells Rick to keep the checks Rick offers as payment, so that he can buy back the house from which he was evicted, but Rick tells him to keep his money for now since it is not enough anyway.
An evicted home owner living in the same motel as Dennis and his family recognizes and threatens him. Dennis reacts by making a deal with Rick to buy back his family’s old house, but the legal process prevents them from moving in immediately, so he decides to get his son out of the motel room immediately by selling the family home and buying a much more luxurious home instead.
When Dennis brings his mother and son to the luxurious house and informs them he bought it and sold their old house so they could get out of the motel room immediately, his mother does not believe at first that he has bought the house. Then Dennis’ mother is shocked by the loss of their long-time home and is repelled as she realizes Dennis got his new-found wealth by helping Rick victimize honest homeowners who have financial problems. Even Dennis’ son is not happy with the arrangement. Lynn and Connor leave Dennis to stay with her brother.
Rick puts together a multimillion-dollar real estate deal, but it is jeopardized by a legal case brought by a home owner he is trying to evict. Dennis and the home owner were friendly acquaintances, but the man turned hostile toward Dennis when he saw him become part of Rick’s eviction business. Dennis obeys Rick’s order to deliver a forged document to court that defeats the home owner’s legal case.
The subsequent eviction turns into an armed stand-off. Fearing that the man, whose family is also in the house, will likely be killed in a shoot-out, Dennis confesses to having delivered the forged document. The home owner surrenders, and Dennis is escorted to the law enforcement’s car so that they can speak with Rick. As Dennis waits in the car the home owner’s son smiles at him, then quickly runs away.
It was an intense film, with an emotive subject matter that was carried through on a brilliantly written story. Every aspect of the film tied together to make it as moving as possible, and this was most evident in the stellar display of acting by those involved. Michael Shannon, Laura Dern, Tim Guinee, Noah Lomax and Clancy Brown were all brilliant; however it was Andrew Garfield who stole the show. His sublime performance tied the entire film together, and ensured that you stayed completely engrossed in the story. You empathised with his character on so many levels,that it was impossible not to root for him. An excellent film, and one that I’d certainly recommend.
Thanks for reading.