99 Homes

October 13, 2015 at 11:48 am | Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment
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During this film, I kept recalling the 2010 movie, “The Company Men,” which also dealt with the struggles one man faced when he lost his job during the recession. That film was made much closer to the bone and was released in the year “99 Homes” takes place. There was a level of generalized anxiety throughout the country that permeated that movie. Though it was ultimately redemptive, it was a harrowing emotional journey. “99 Homes” has the benefit of distance, the result of which is a film that feels more Hollywood than revelation. Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) is a general contractor who finds himself unemployed and, as a result, cannot keep his home. Rick Carver (Michael Shannon) first evicts him and then, seeing an opportunity, offers him a job. And, so, Nash goes to work for the proverbial devil. The film is about his struggle with that choice. Like “The Company Men,” this is the story of how men define themselves in our modern American; what makes them good fathers or sons or providers or just good people. In both movies, we see different men handling it in different ways. The director, Ramin Bahrani, is responsible for the lovely and insightful little independent film “Chop Shop,” so I had high hopes for this one. And there are many beautiful and heartbreaking moments here. Every single eviction (and you will see plenty of them) is so different and so human. It’s hard not to get emotional in those moments. Garfield does some of his best work during those evictions. Those who have only seen him as Spider-Man, might be forgiven for thinking he is just a pretty face. His Nash is a heartbroken and defeated man and that performance is the best thing about this film. The normally brilliant Michael Shannon seems to bring his stock bad guy performance, which is a shame because he is the other half of this story. While the film started really strongly, it began to go off the rails about halfway through, for me. In the end, it felt less like a realistic exploration of a man’s struggle (in the way “The Company Men” attempted to be) and more of a Hollywood morality tale, complete with recurring symbolic characters and an ending that bears no resemblance to the real world. It’s a shame. These actors are all capable of more. This film could have offered insight but, instead, it settled for entertainment.

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