“… able to provide both perspectives on heartbreaking situations while still delivering an intense film.”
After writing this review I realized that it has some light spoilers for the film 99 Homes. I try my best not to spoil the films I review but sometimes things just come about naturally when I am speaking about the film. I apologize for the inconvenience but if you haven’t seen 99 Homes I strongly suggest you watch it.
Do you ever sit down and watch a movie not knowing anything about it? If so, does that movie proceed to surpass any expectations you had and leave you feeling empty inside due to its tragic tone? Maybe I’m alone in both of those things but 99 Homes definitely fits those bills. 99 Homes is a movie about Dennis Nash, a man who lives with his mother and his son and struggles to pay his bills due to the recession. Dennis and his family get evicted from their family home by Rick Carver, a realtor who represents the bank. Looking for work to get his home back, Dennis ends up working for Carver doing to people exactly what Carver did to him. The movie stars Andrew Garfield as Dennis Nash and Michael Shannon as Rick Carver.
99 Homes truly is a terrible movie. Not that it is bad, but it makes you feel terrible after watching it. When I sated that 99 Homes left me feeling empty inside, it wasn’t a hyperbole. 99 Homes offers perspectives on truly terrible situations, and often times makes you feel conflicted. The best example I have of this the scene where Dennis gets evicted from his home. During that scene you obviously feel bad for Dennis. Sure they didn’t pay their bills, and that is what happens when you don’t pay your bills, but even then the home they are being evicted from is where their family lives. To see someone abruptly ripped away from the only place in the world where they feel safe is terrifying. In the blink of an eye everything that these characters have built up is taken from them. You get to see that pain on Dennis’ face when he is told to move his things to the curb because what used to be his front lawn is now private property and he is trespassing. We feel bad for Dennis, like we are supposed to. Then comes a time when the tables are turned. Dennis is the one doing the evicting and we still feel bad for Dennis. We are again seeing a family have their one sanctuary ripped out from under them but this time we feel bad for the one doing the ripping. It truly is fascinating to see how our emotions evolve simply because we followed a character for a little longer. Had the movie been set a few years earlier and we were following Rick Carver would we feel bad for him? Chances are we would because during the few times we do get to “pierce the armour” of Rick Carver we see that he is a man who doesn’t enjoy what he does, but he knows that in order for him and his family to survive, he has to do it.
Of course all of this emotion was carried by the phenomenal actors in 99 Homes. Michael Shannon is one of my favourite actors so I had no surprise seeing him knock every scene out of the park. The real surprise came with Andrew Garfield. I still see Andrew Garfield as a “teenager” because that is mainly what I saw him as before 99 Homes. I was honestly surprised to see him in the movie, but I was even more surprised that he held up against a heavyweight like Michael Shannon. Garfield plays the character of Dennis, so a lot of the emotion comes from him and he absolutely killed it. I never once questioned what I was seeing on screen because it all felt exactly like what a character in his position would do. Aside from the heavyweights we have a myriad of smaller characters who serve many purposes. When Dennis’ eviction is happening there are two officers accompanying Rick Carver to essentially be the muscle. I couldn’t get over how terrible the one cop was at acting. He was constantly stumbling over his words and making it seem like he had an inferiority complex being in a scene with other people so he was constantly trying to assert dominance. That’s when it hit me; the actor wasn’t doing a terrible job, he was acting real. What person has never stumbled over their words in a high stress situation? What person has never tried to make themselves larger (both in posture and tone of voice) when in a shouting match with someone else? I have no idea if it was planned, but it absolutely worked. The great part about that was when I realized the cop seemed very real, I started looking for other examples and there were too many to count. This movie is absolutely full of actors doing just enough to make the scenes believable. Nobody overstepped their bounds, nobody seems like an actor. It all came together to produce a wonderfully immersive experience.
I’m not going to lie, I initially disliked the ending of 99 Homes. I thought it was a little on the nose to end to film with a “the bad guy gets what is coming to him” archetype. I still do think that in a sense, but ultimately I have grown to like the ending the more I think about it. This is a perfect example of my reasoning for waiting a day to review a film. Many times you have to let something sit with you for a while before an opinion can be made. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are actively thinking about that thing all the time, what matters is the fact that time can provide a different perspective. Anyway, another thing I noticed in 99 Homes was the fact that there were many instances of editing not quite matching up. This mainly occurred in scenes where two people are talking and you can see the corner of someones mouth but the other persons face. It was obvious to me that the corner of that one persons mouth wasn’t moving, yet their character was talking. Of course this is almost unavoidable (unless you frame the shots differently) because of humans not being able to perfect replicate things very often. I hope you understand what I was trying to say there but if you don’t, just know that it isn’t a big deal and I would be surprised if it was noticed by many other people.
Overall 99 Homes is a movie that is able to provide both perspectives on heartbreaking situations while still delivering an intense film.
I give 99 Homes an A