Take a moment to try and imagine how you would feel if you were one day suddenly evicted from your home; told to pack up what you own and leave everything you’ve ever known with no plan and no place to go. Now imagine having to relive that harrowing experience again, and again, and again…
This pretty much sums up the (emotionally traumatic) premise of Ramin Bahrani’s film 99 Homes. Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) is a hardworking construction labourer who is struggling to make money to support his mother, Lynn (Laura Dern) and young son, Connor (Noah Lomax). When Dennis and his family are forcibly evicted from their home by wealthy real estate broker, Rick Carver (Micheal Shannon), they have nowhere else to go but to a dodgy motel out of town. Desperate to get his family home back, Dennis does a deal with the devil and starts working for the very man who ruined his life. Hiding his new job from his family, Dennis starts raking in the cash, but being Rick Carver’s right hand man has its drawbacks, namely having to dole out the very thing that got him into this mess to start with – evictions.
This is an atmospheric drama that is in equal parts enthralling and totally devastating. With gut-wrenching performances by not only the lead actors, but the supporting cast of home evictees who will consistently bring a tear to your eye and strike fear in your heart. Most of us are lucky us to never have to worry about being evicted from our homes, but watching this film will definitely give you an idea of what it might feel like. 99 Homes opens up a dark and seedy world of dodgy property dealings, the kind that can ruin lives and move otherwise ordinary people to extreme distress, anger and even violence (which makes it even harder to hear that this film is inspired by real-life stories).
What this movie does so successfully is create a climate of tension and apprehension. You’re never quite sure what’s going to happen next, or what these characters are truly capable of when they’ve got nothing left to lose, and it’s simply thrilling to be a part of. This is down to both Bahrani’s direction and the awesome acting chops of Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon. While there were some writing choices that I personally disagreed with, for the most part this was a film was an amazing ride, well worth the emotional drain.