’99 Homes’ offers grim reminder of the recent past
99 Homes is a drama that takes place during America’s recession, circa 2008. The hopeless and grim opening scene sets the tone of desperation during a time when foreclosed homes outnumbered inhabited homes in neighborhoods throughout the US. Rick Carver, played brilliantly by Michael Shannon, is a slick realtor who preys on those left upside down on their mortgages. He’s cold and calculating and is the ultimate vulture, happy to feast on the carcasses of those who fell on hard times. We get a brief glimpse that he wasn’t always this way. He was once a normal, everyday realtor who put people into homes, rather than dragging them out. Rick is a set on never failing and sees an opportunity between the banks, mortgage companies, and the out of work homeowner. He takes pride in screwing all parties involved as long as he is still cashing big checks. His daily routine is evicting people on behalf of the banks and one such eviction is the home of Dennis Nash, Andrew Garfield as a hardworking, everyman, left jobless by the slowdown in home building.
Dennis lives with his mother, Lynn Nash (Laura Dern) and his son, Connor (Noah Lomax). Dennis and his mother believe the banks are “working with them” and they are surprised when Rick Carver arrives with two police officers who refer to Carver as “Boss”. They give the Nash family two minutes to get what they can and get out. Carver’s thugs/movers then put all the Nash family belongings in the yard and give them just hours to move things off the lawn and leave the property. Having few options, the Nash family check into a motel that is full of others just like them, all thinking their stay is temporary, but there aren’t many signs of hope and Dennis knows he will do whatever it takes to get his family out of this situation. He begins to hunt for work, any work, but notices his tools have been stolen by Carver’s movers at the time of the eviction. He finds Carver’s office and confronts the movers and a fist fight ensues. Carver comes out and sees the opportunity to offer a job to this desperate man who is full of conviction, and brings him into his ruthless world. Dennis doesn’t really have any options and desperately needs the money, and thus the proverbial tail of making a deal with the devil begins.
The drama is thick, the acting is realistic, and the writing is intelligent. This film should resonate with most Americans because everyone was negatively affected by the past recession. Everyone knew someone or they themselves experienced that feeling of desperation from losing your job, your home and basically your way of life.
Rating – 4 stars