99 Homes Blu-ray Review
Now that the American public has officially associated Tom Holland with the iconic role of Spider-Man, maybe Andrew Garfield can move on to roles that better suit his talents. Before 99 HOMES, I generally would have never guessed that the 32-year-old actor could rise much higher than the snide Peter Parker or Mark Zuckerburg’s former best friend in THE SOCIAL NETWORK. A movie like 99 HOMES not only showcases Garfield’s true talents, but propels him past the bungled job that Sony gave him back in 2012 and 2014.
Garfield plays Dennis Nash, a home builder by trade. But there’s only one problem with that, he’s living in the humid state of Florida where the real estate market remains stagnant. If anything, it’s the perfect climate for predatory realtors whose main job is to evict people and reap the financial benefits of someone who’s hit rock bottom. One of those is Rick Carver (Shannon). He’s slyly found a way to make money off the company he represents, the U.S. government, and the people who are being booted out on the streets.
So it’s clear how Dennis and Rick meet. Dennis is the latest victim of Rick’s job of foreclosing homes. It’s legitimately rough watching Dennis have to explain to his son, and his mom who lives with them, that they only have a handful of minutes to pack up all their belongings and leave their childhood home behind. It’s made worse by Rick’s icy stare and scripted demeanor. Once the metaphorical dust settles, these two cross paths again, but this time, it’s to become allies.
Dennis, with his rough worker hands, street smarts, and willingness to make a buck for menial labor, earns the respect of Rick. Rick, realizing there’s potential in someone who will work to better his family’s life, takes Dennis under his wings to teach him the sinful ropes of foreclosing on homes, stealing money and appliances, and some of the more devilish tricks of the trade. It’s quite an unlikely turn considering Dennis would have gladly strangled Rick with glee.
While 99 HOMES feels like a movie that came out too late, it’s a much more engaging character study and acting tour de force for its main leads. Shannon, who may still be a bit of a mystery to American audiences since many know him right now as Zod from MAN OF STEEL, really gets to highlight why he’s the greatest undiscovered gem in acting right now. While 99 HOMES isn’t Shannon’s best role (his best would be the crazed father in TAKE SHELTER), he carries 99 HOMES from beginning to end.
99 HOMES begins with a suicide and the first thing we see is Rick staring at the lifeless corpse of a man who’d rather die than be homeless. He portrays the perfect looks of disgust that any person would have staring at such a grisly scene, but just as perfectly, he reveals his look of repugnance is only because he’s going to have to call someone and spend money to clean up the brain matter currently splattering the room. Shannon, through his stares and mannerisms, brings unspoken hostility to Rick, but in some rare moments, shows that Rick is still a human; somehow.
99 HOMES would have probably gotten a lot more attention (and a much deserved Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for Shannon) back in 2009 or 2010, only shortly removed from the 2008 house marketing crash. But what writer and director Ramin Bahrini manages to do, is craft a riveting tale about how the innocent can be corrupted for the right reasons and how the corrupted continue to find the right reasons, to continue being corrupt.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:39:1) From the postcard scenery in Florida to the interior of homes, everything comes through clearly on this blu-ray.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The tense music, nail biting exchanges, and soft sounds of the ocean tide are mixed and balanced well in this movie.
Audio Commentary with Director Ramin Bahrani: Since this is your only feature, everything you want to learn about the movie is within this solo commentary. Bahrani talks in detail about each scene, talking about performances, settings, design, and the research that he pored over for each aspect and theme. Each bit of information is short and sweet, allowing him to move on to another talking point. At the end of the movie, there is a bonus deleted scene that the director talks about as you watch it.
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