Ever since Jeff Nichols' 2013 Crime Drama, Mud, it's been an understatement in regards to myself admitting that I approve of Michael Shannon's work. He's the kind of intense, character actor that fits very well into the mold his Mud co-star, Matthew McConaughey often inhabits. While 99 Homes could indeed be considered by some as a solid Michael Shannon full metal jacket round, the star that gives shine is none other than the film's protagonist actor, Andrew Garfield.
Portraying a down and out, unemployed son and father to his mother and son, respectively, his expertise lying extensively in small-crew construction, Garfield handles the role with sturdy foundations. The maddening lack of work and layoffs from crews due to the times' American foreclosure crisis, weighing palpably on his shoulders. Garfield really sells the anger and alienation felt by his character's feelings of abandonment by the America Housing system and subsequently, it's government.
Enter in Michael Shannon's character, Rick Carver, a crooked real estate agent who carves up households as quick as he does corrupt business deals. After dragging Dennis Nash (Garfield, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Social Network) along with his son, Connor (Noah Lomax, Safe Haven, Playing For Keeps) and mother, Lynn (Laura Dern, Jurassic Park, Wild), out of their home as the banks denote, Carver decides to take Dennis under his wing, after witnessing his drive and determination in getting what he wants back.
The home eviction scene is heartbreaking, both Garfield and Dern giving their best performances of the movie. Shannon however, steals his scenes back towards the film's third act.
The stakes growing, the money poole becoming ever more enticing, we follow Dennis Nash on a journey of morality and self-discovery, 99 Homes offering stammering rewards and dire consequences at every turn.
The film is not without it's faults however.
Towards the middle of the third act, the movie seems ready to push itself along in a motivational attempt at sparking the lifeblood of the story which is this the absolute struggle the protagonist goes through as he gets himself and his family tangled up in this foreclosure crisis. This is most evident in the dialogue delivered.
The dialogue becomes of such that it seems to heavily suggest, "Hey, this is serious; this kind of thing actually happened to people." Yes, indeed we get it; most of us can actually remember 2010, it wasn't necessarily that long ago. Though this dialogue becomes irreverent as the film progresses and the intrigue increases.
Shannon's character, Rick, has an indiscernible motivation when thought about. His desires ultimately become contrived because of this, somewhat stuffing him into a pre-conceived "crooked man" mold for movies, yet it's nothing that takes too much away from the film as a whole.
Lastly, the ending to the film is somewhat ambiguously, loose-ended to the extent that you don't really care to learn of the protagonist's reaction in regards to the end of their development arc, but you'd think it would be nice to know, just for the sake of it, alone.
Overall, director Ramin Bahrani's 99 Homes is a gripping thriller/drama with great performances by all involved. If you're a Michael Shannon fan specifically (the guy has a great monologue in the movie) or are interested in seeing Andrew Garfield branch out into more expansive territory, 99 Homes is not a film to miss; or to be taken lightly for that matter.
What were your thoughts on the movie? Tell us all about it below.
- Josh Price