By Christian DiMartino
Have you ever seen the show Operation Repo? No? Good. Don’t.
Operation Repo revolves around these fat ugly apes who tow cars, and every single time they do it, the victims flail their arms and put up a huge fuss. When you watch it, you get the vibe that these people are not actually that angry. But rather, they are on a reality show, and are doing it for entertainment sake.
99 Homes often brought that show to mind, but instead of towing, people are being evicted. Obviously, that is a bigger deal then getting your car towed. But the film, directed by Ramin Bahrani, tries to shove its message down our throats for nearly two hours. It’s a film that wants to change the world. Nice try.
Andrew Garfield, coming off of the misfire that was The Amazing Spider-Man 2, plays Dennis Nash, a hardworking father who lives with his mother (Laura Dern, always wonderful) and son. Enter Ray Carver (Michael Shannon, recently nominated for a Golden Globe), a realtor of the sorts who evicts Nash and his family from their home. In fact, it is done in such an awkward, awful fashion: they are told to immediately grab their belongings, and leave… immediately. Ouch.
The trio is forced to move into a motel. But soon opportunity knocks for Dennis. He runs into Carver not long after, and soon ends up working for him… by helping him evict people. So by evicting people, he gets a boost in his own life. See the dilemma?
There is certainly an interesting premise in 99 Homes, but yet much of it feels a tad redundant… and a bit like Operation Repo. Especially in the final act, when one of the homeowners pulls out a shotgun. See?
Garfield is a good actor, but yet I never fully bought into his performance. He begins with a redneck accent, and then ditches it. But it doesn’t stop there. I get that the man is desperate to get his life back. But I never really bought his transformation. I felt like he did what he did because the script told him to, and occasionally he overacts.
As for Shannon, he is the reason to see this film, if any. His performance is Oscar worthy. He plays an irredeemable character, but yet he is the one who leaves the most impact by the time the film is over. When he’s not onscreen, the film crumbles just about as much as the housing market.
I didn’t hate 99 Homes, and I couldn’t list 99 problems it has. But yet it is a film that wants to be way more than it is. Shannon is worth the big talk. The rest? Eh.