99 HOMES

 ★★★★

Dir:Ramin Bahrani (2015)

Ramin Bahrani‘s excellent morality thriller sees a hard-working handy-man employed and seduced by the very man who evicted him, his son and his mother from their family home. We’re in Florida where the stone faced real estate broker, Rick Carver (played with a chill and a wink by Michael Shannon), is a small time Gordon “greed is good” Gekko with a depressing inside line on the nose-diving housing market. There’s a surprising amount of dirty work behind every eviction and it pays well enough to lure an excellent Andrew Garfield as the recently homeless, grafting, single dad, Dennis.

Bahrani gets far more personal than this year’s star-studded financial depress-o-thon, The Big Short and uses two incredible lead performances from a grizzled Shannon and a fresh-faced career best from Garfield, with Dennis’ go getting attitude also, somehow seducing Carver’s heart of darkness. The film’s real bite is in Dennis’ struggle; Dumped in a motel with his mother (Laura Dern) and his son Connor (Noah Lomax), the secret to exactly where his cold hard cash is coming from must be kept until he can get his family out of there. But the pot of gold at the end of this rather tatty looking rainbow of stolen air-condition units and hush-hush board room meetings is a change in Dennis’ role and Bahrani takes 99 Homes into real skin-crawl territory.

The back and forth between the dependable and desperate and the rich and needy is certainly the film’s centrepiece using the pair as a shorthand characterisation of how so many lost everything dear to them in the foreclosure crash at the end of the 2000’s. It’s an anti-buddy movie in a strange kind of way which drives a road littered with a many clichés. But the close quarters nature of the story, a fine dramatic script (by Bahrani and Amir Naderi) and wonderful performances steer this great little film on to cross the line lengths ahead of this years slew of financial meltdown pictures; A fantastic film, making a tough subject worthy of your time.

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