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A Reel Life film section

Issue: Summer 2015-6

99 Homes (2014) movie review

Greed is Good (Again)

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Movie poster, 99 Homes
Greed is the only game in town.

A recently unemployed single father struggles to get back his foreclosed home by working for the real estate broker who is the source of his frustration.

Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) is a carpenter with his own tools. He loses his job building a house when the finance falls through. Ironically he finds that there is a housing boom - in working evictions.

Seeking to confront the realtor who evicted him from his family home (Rick Carver, played by Michael Shannon), he desperately takes a job literally shovelling shit.

Working for Rick Carver real estate is a 24/7 job, leave your heart at home. And as Nash rapidly discovers, it is leave your ethics and your respect for the law at home too.

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Andrew Garfield as Dennis Nash in "99 Homes"
Photo: Broad Green Pictures

With Nash, we the audience discover that there is a whole world of lucrative scams available to realtors. In films like The Big Short and The Emperor's New Clothes we have discovered some of the questionable, immoral schemes of bankers, and how they cost people their jobs and their homes. In 99 Homes we discover that huge money is being made by the people who buy and turn over the foreclosed homes.

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Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon in "99 Homes"
Photo: Broad Green Pictures

As Nash becomes more involved in Carver's schemes, he discovers that while working with law enforcement, and quoting legal decisions, Carver is not above scamming the government and the banks.

The desperation of people who have lost their homes, usually after losing their jobs, is apparent in the film. The embarrassment, the sense of helplessness, is shown very effectively.

As the layers peel off from Carver's business model, and more profiteers are revealed, we come to realise that there is a whole, wealthy 'underworld' of people making money from evictions.

Using Nash for the reveal is an interesting device, and there is no doubt that 99 Homes has been well received by the film community. However 99 Homes is one of those films where the film-makers decide to bump up the tension with the soundtrack. The manipulative beat of the soundtrack is pervasive. It is also more than a little bit insulting that they didn't think we'd notice.

As a concept, this film is important to see. As an emotional drama, it's a little bit studied. Where will it all end? According to Russell Brand (The Emperor's New Clothes) that's something we should all act upon.

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by Ali Kayn
Australian release 17 November 2015
For credits and official site details, see below
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Just the facts:

Title: 99 Homes (2014)
Written by: Ramin Bahrani (story, script)
Directed by: Ramin Bahrani
Running time: 112 mins
Rating: M

The Players: Laura Dern, Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon

Official website:
IMDb entry

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