99 Homes vs. 1 Realtor
For director Ramin Bahrani and the film's two stars, Michael Shannon and
99 HOMES is a breakout film, as urgent as it is suspenseful.
The film takes audiences on a mesmerizing trip as it traces the rise and fall
of a greed-fueled
realtor and his victim-turned-protege. What begins as a shocking forced eviction
of a Floridian family
soon turns into a money-churning partnership, but one in which a clash of
personalities, and between
right and wrong, keeps amplifying the stakes at every turn.
The year is 2010 and the place is Florida, which leads the nation in
foreclosures. In the last
decade, housing prices magically doubled then tripled, as loan money and risky
mortgages flowed fast
and furious. But now, as crisis rocks the nation, whole subdivisions are going
belly up. While many
struggle to survive, Rick Carver smells opportunity. At the behest of big banks
and the government's
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, he becomes the go-to guy who can flip foreclosed
homes at lightning
speed, by any means necessary. He's in the so-called "Cash For Keys" business,
tenants out of their homes or turns to threats and weaponry if they refuse. It's
a job for those willing to
see what they can get away with -- but even among his peers, Carver crushes the
Carver collides with Dennis Nash when he, in typical pitiless fashion, throws
Nash and his
family out of their home. Their first encounter is incendiary. Carver couldn't
care any less about
Nash's roiling emotions ... or that he's a single father who would do anything to
keep his family afloat.
And yet, Carver is impressed by something in Nash, by his tenacity, his fierce
pride, his willingness to
go to the line. After seeing the full force of Nash's work ethic, Carver makes
him his newest recruit.
Nash quickly learns the shady, dangerous ways of Carver's methods -- how to
face off with
angry, frantic people while maxing your personal profit -- but Nash is not quite
like Carver. Carver
fervently believes in what he is doing. A master of self-made proverbs, he
believes that "America
doesn't bail out the losers; America was built by bailing out winners." Nash, on
the other hand, just
wants a home, his home, even if it means risking his life - until he begins to
see the price is his soul.
Nash's seduction by Carver, and the awakening of his own moral power,
Bahrani. "It's a deal with the devil story," says the director and co-writer.
"It's a Faustian bargain
where Andrew Garfield's character has to work for the very man who evicted him
in order to get his
home back. He learns how to run scams on the banks and the government, which is
satisfying. Then he
learns how to evict people just like himself, which is unsettling. But once he
starts crossing the legal
lines, he has to wonder if it's still about protecting his family and regaining
his home, or if it's
becoming about cultivating a darker part of himself, seeing what he can get away
with. He has a lot of
reasons to be angry but he has to ask himself: how far is too far in this
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