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Andrew Garfield – Dennis Nash
Michael Shannon – Rick Carver
Laura Dern – Lynn Nash
Noah Lomax – Connor Nash
99 Homes succeeds in surrounding its engaged viewers with dread. This is my first observation of the movie; the way in which the story unfolds at quick pace and with terrified people. Hollywood has released some diverse and crazy storylines in the past and present, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one about something so realistic as a family being evicted from their home due to missed mortgage payments. It’s an issue which affects thousands – maybe millions – of people all over the world in real life, and this is what made this movie even more of a thriller. A real issue.
The scene where Dennis and his mother Lynn open the door to businessman Rick Carver had me gripped constantly. Without warning, the family are ordered to leave the property and given just three minutes to gather their most precious belongings. Garfield may be the lead actor in the movie, but it was Dern who took centre stage and delivered a fantastic, panic-stricken performance. The woman used her best worried facial expressions and quick gestures to portray ‘kicked out mom’. I was completely convinced by her character, she did good. It was quite shocking; watching a mother, her son and her grandson be kicked out of their house, and everything they own spread across the lawn. A genuine sense of dread and sadness here, again, due to the genuinely realistic story.
This scene engulfed the auditorium in domestic fear, it was a thrilling watch. A scenario and acting so effective that I felt every second of the action. The way I’m banging on sounds as though 99 Homes is practically a Benedict Cumberbatch Broadway masterpiece.. it’s not. But it certainly does a great job bringing a financial race-against-the-clock script to life. During certain scenes the acting was so genuine, I almost forgot I was watching a movie because it felt like a documentary. Imagine a camera crew following a group of real estate agents and police around a city, filming how they perform their daily jobs. And then throw in a handful of suburban residents who have fallen on hard times, subsequently being evicted from their homes and being interviewed about the horrific experience. There you have 99 Homes. Director Ramin Bahrani does a brilliant job of veering away from the standard movie route, laying it bare and throwing raw confrontation at viewers. It’s very refreshing.
This movie was cast very well. But for me, it were the backing cast who were the bread and butter of the sandwich. Without the supporting cast, I don’t think 99 Homes would have been as effective as it was. This is one of those features where the ‘extras’ are on the same level as the A-lister’s, delivering funny or slightly shocking lines that get an audience reaction. Working well alongside Shannon and Garfield are a variety of people young and old who play evicted tenants. A single mother and her daughter who are so shocked by Dennis’s visit that the daughter threatens to ‘post’ him all over Facebook. The lonely old man who is forced to leave his home and sits on a chair in the middle of his lawn, looking like he’s about to burst into tears. And the quiet couple with a child, who take eviction so personally that the father produces a gun and causes havoc between everyone..
The only downside to this character ensemble was that a few of them seemed calm as anything whilst being evicted. A few exited their homes with emotionless faces as though they had been invited to a neighbour’s garden party that they couldn’t really be bothered to attend.
These people drained the urgency out of the situation a bit, but otherwise the rest of the actors did good. The backing ensemble were a strong backbone for the movie.
99 Homes is worth a watch. It’s a subtle yet gripping feature filled with dread, and it’s a tense ride as Dennis plays an intimidating game with the Devil (almost. Shannon is halfway there), and Garfield plays his character well. As mentioned above, it’s the whole realistic chain of events which happen in real life that got me. It added an air of genuine tension to the movie which was quite enjoyable.
This wasn’t an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride as such, but for what it packs into its 110 minutes of screen time it certainly cooks up the right atmosphere using ingredients of a perfect casting and daunting scenes of realism.
Give it a go.