99 Homes: Startling, Exhausting Economic Horror Relived
With the housing crisis pretty much behind us (especially where I live in Denver which is booming with the strongest real estate market in the country), Ramin Bahrani’s rather dated “99 Homes” doesn’t feel as timely as it once was nor might have been intended. The drama extensively toured the film festival circuit over the past year including Sundance, Toronto, and Telluride among many others. It serves as more as a reflection of a chaotic past consumed with greed and pain than a sign of the times. However, foreclosures can easily happen again.
Cinematics (Plot, Acting, Cinematography, etc.) – 4
Michael Shannon is conniving and haunting in “99 Homes” as the agent who oversees the foreclosure process. He is trapped in his own emotional cycle. Deep down he may want to leave this line of work, but he loves it. Andrew Garfield is the struggling construction worker turned agent who assists Shannon with his dealings. He just wants to provide for his mother (played by Laura Dern) and his younger son. I thought Ramin Bahrani captured the intensity of the housing crisis accurately. This is the first movie of his I liked. (I fell asleep through the boring “Goodbye Solo” and the dreadful “At Any Price” was miserable.) He seems to have found more of a vibrant rhythm as a filmmaker.
Entertainment Value – 2
This isn’t fair to rate “99 Homes” in this category. After all, it is emotionally taxing and not at all “entertaining.” This isn’t that sort of movie. Viewers become exhausted as we watch homeowner after homeowner be forced out of their house during the eviction process. This isn’t an easy movie to sit through nor an easy sell to audiences. File this under “depressing” but “important,” but not entertaining. Not at all. Regardless, I was engaged and couldn’t take my eyes off of it. This should count for something.
Re-watchability – 3
It would be hard to want to watch “99 Homes” again, but I bet it holds up from the standpoint of the very strong cinematic that was mentioned above as well as being a snapshot of America’s economic housing crisis. It will hold up nicely, but will you want to re-visit financial trauma? There’s a minor historical inaccurate detail I noticed in “99 Homes.” Even though it takes place in late 2010 to early 2011, one of the characters uses an iPhone 5s which was available almost two years later in 2012. I believe this scene happened when Andrew Garfield is in a courthouse bathroom. The economic anxiety held my attention so well that I noticed this tiny detail.
"99 Homes" has strong emotional moments and strong performances from Shannon, Garfield, and Dern, but the content makes it challenging to sit through.