Hot Take: 99 Homes is one of the most depressing films you’ll see that doesn’t involve a terminal illness. There’s an element of horror in the movie and Michael Shannon as Rick Carver is one of those characters who make you cringe because you find yourself half agreeing with what he says. Unfortunately, the third act keeps the movie from being great.
In Pulp Fiction, Marsellus Wallace says, “Pride only hurts, it never helps!” While 99 Homes centers around the housing collapse of 2010, at the heart of the movie is pride and how it can mess with you. From the main character, Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) to his mother (Laura Dern) to the others being foreclosed on to Carver, pride (and maybe a little bit of vanity) are the enemy in this dark, biting drama about how ugly the collapse could be.
Director Ramin Bahrani should be commended for the way the film is shot. There is a level of realness in the documentary style some of the scenes are framed. The fast paced rhythm of the film adds to the desperation of it all and Michael Shannon’s performance as the opportunistic realtor profiting on the evictions of others is one of 2015’s most compelling.
If anything, at 1 hour and 52 minutes, 99 Homes sells short and could benefit from another half hour as sometimes it feels too fast. It’s like watching someone blow up balloons for a surprise party only minutes away, you know one might burst. And 99 Homes does in the third act, as it lacks the bite of the first two acts. Bahrani and writer Amir Naderi put their foot on the neck of the audience only to let them up at the last second.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Michael Shannon
His portrayal of Rick Carver will, at the very least, be compared to performances like Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gekko. It should garner Shannon Oscar consideration.
- It’s a Think Piece
There’s plenty of things to chew on here. There’s a guarantee at some point you’ll be questioning your moral compass and maybe even feeling a little less of yourself for the conclusions you draw.
- The Way the Film Puts A Grip On You…
The fast pace and domineering score sucks the audience into the deep end and then temporarily makes it forget how to swim. It’s depressing, scary and unnerving as you don’t even know who to really root for.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- … Until That Third Act
Not sure why Bahrani and Naderi decided to put floaties on us in the third act. (Due to the “Spoiler Free” nature of the commentary here, I’ll leave it at that.)
- Nash’s Son
There’s nothing wrong with Noah Lomax’s portrayal of Connor Nash but if the director wants me to believe in this grade school kid’ maturity beyond his years, less horseplay, talk of video games, less importance of securing his toys among other references makes this a daunting if impossible task for the audience.