99 Homes

Disappointing, and yet eminently watchable


99 Homes

  • Disappointing, and yet eminently watchable

99 Homes

  • Disappointing, and yet eminently watchable


Rated

R

Starring

Andrew Garfield
Michael Shannon
Laura Dern
Tim Guinee
Noah Lomax

Written by

Amer Naderi
Ramin Bahrani

Directed by

Ramin Bahrani



What to Expect

I think the first time I heard of Ramin Bahrani’s latest feature is about last year, when it was just doing the rounds of the various festivals it has now already been in. And to be honest, apart from possibly the portrayal of an extremely topical situation, I wouldn’t know that to intrinsically expect.

Of course, except for the rather strong cast. And here I was, at the entrance, trying to make sense of the (possibly exorbitant?) praise the film’s received thus far, in heavy contrast to the rather tasteless trailer, giving one the feeling of deja vu within the stratosphere of a relevant independent drama film.

But that was probably just my clouded judgment speaking before the lights began to gradually dim.

What’s it About?

After unceremoniously being evicted from his house and without any jobs to run to, Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield; Never Let Me Go) has no choice but to partner up with Rick Carver (Michael Shannon; Revolutionary Road), the real-estate agent that helped repossess his house back, doing to others exactly what was done to him. And when the money comes in, and the lines between the good and evil blur, Nash is at a risk of falling into a black hole he may never, ever get out of.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

In a world surrounded by darkness

In a world surrounded by darkness

Having expected nothing of it apart from the film’s extremely competent performers, of course, I went in with as clear a mind as possible. The added possible advantage for me here was to get to know a director I had no clue about while watching the movie. What I did, however, know is that Bahrani’s films, more often (Man Push Cart) than not (At Any Price), have received an almost unanimous nod of appreciation from critics and reviewers who’ve watched them. And from the looks of it, 99 Homes was definitely going there; the buzz has been extremely strong for this one.

And once the first five minutes of the film decide to kick in, I could see why. The first act does the deed of effortlessly introducing our characters, tying them up to a particular situation that only goes to build what they have on their side, and how much power do they hold in society. You’re introduced to Shannon’s character with the worst thing that could go wrong with him, and to Garfield’s with the worst thing that Shannon could do with him. Almost predictably, you’re bang within their lives crossing each other when Shannon’s ruthless eviction of Garfield’s family takes place. You, the viewer, is able to fully understand the plight of Garfield’s family and direness of their situation. There’s a hushed up conversation between Dern and Garfield shows symbolically how helpless they feel – and this is not just within conversation. There’s obviously ample exposition with the exchange of words, but the positioning of the conversation past bedtime at night, and the inevitable usage of spare lighting only goes ahead to enhance it. Darkness is specifically used whenever Garfield is shown to be the most emotionally vulnerable, echoing beautifully how he feels about his choices in life. Another example, at a particular possible transitional juncture between the second and third acts, Garfield’s Dennis Nash indirectly talks about his fears with Shannon’s Rick Carver – once again, used with spare lighting, and featuring a surprisingly intimate, desperate, and sometime confused exchange of words. Cinematographer Bobby Bukowski (Infinitely Polar Bear) helps pitch in these interesting stratagems to get a one up on seemingly interesting emotionally attached (and sometimes justifiably dissonant observations).

And when the sharpest sunlight doesn't bother your exposed vulnerabilities...

And when the sharpest sunlight doesn’t bother your exposed vulnerabilities…

The bright, mostly sunlight-filled backdrops aren’t romanticized, but are shown to the audience to probably feel the heat and unjustified nature of the atrocities committed on the evicted, left out of what was once their houses to (shrivel and) dry. This may either be unnoticeable or totally a construction of my imagination of what I felt of the technique symbolically. There’s a certain sharpness in Carver, which is why even his most vulnerable conversations are strewn confidently to Garfield in the openest of spaces, in contrast with Nash, who almost always feels (and, like I’ve stated previously, is visually shown to be) bottled up, either from pressure or desperation.

The biggest achievement of the film is most definitely how progressively terrific the two acts are when looked at together. Every decision made by Nash feels exceedingly humane and realistic; driven out of desperation to save his family – his school-going kid, and his mother, both fairly real, albeit formulaic characters that are made solely to manipulate Nash’s decisions within the screenplay (more on that later). Many a time, when the audience is witness to these evictions –  and you’re able to see how crushed Garfield feels about being an inevitable part of the situation – they may mostly be prone to this very important feeling: a very grateful sense of relief for those who’ve never been evicted in their lives. There’s also a very definite feeling of suffocation in some prime moments, which you’re able to clearly be a part of, considering we’re seeing most of the film lining with Nash’s point of view.

You did good, kid. Thank you.

“You did good, kid. Thank you.”

But then, we’re taken to the third act, where almost everything you’d have expected to happen decides to happen in a predictably to-do list of a fashion. an this is where in contrast to what’s been built up with such care, giving a terrific insight into our two players, the film suddenly becomes about moral conscience. As an argument, one could say that the events in the third act were meant to happen right from the first frame of the film, and how the cards were placed anyway. In such a case, there definitely must have been a better way – or more – to convey the gradual repossession of our protagonist’s moral principles. What we see, if not predictable (which it most definitely is), is a disappointingly hurried race to the film’s end. Yes, the film may never have meant to be character-driven, in favor of a linear story writers Naderi and Bahrani have attempted to narrate to its eventual viewers. What it still did do is disrupt its (accidental?) character studies of Shannon and Garfield in favor of the oldest man-gets-conscience-and-enlightenment trick in the book. While the film’s eventual end is pretty ambiguous and is dramatically toned to perfection, there may most definitely be a nagging want, if only by a few, of the film to have possibly been darker than it eventually ends up.

Which is then a shame, because these few may most definitely feel slightly betrayed for not being given a more viscerally real account of an initially timid character’s eventual potential megalomania on the achievement of so much power, if not the utter disparaging reality of the crisis it means to show.

And I’m possibly one of those few.

To Perform or Not to Perform

The blurring of the lines

The blurring of the lines

What you’re given in the film, and why this film feels so real to everyone watching it totally depends on how great Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon are. Garfield, on the one hand, carries most of his character so well that you’re eventually invested in what he plans to do next, and why he does what he does. Ditto for Shannon, whose electrifying presence and utmost focus in his role completely shows: you’re both angry with, and curious of him and the eventual moves he makes in the micro-chessboard of the film’s parallel universe. Laura Dern is an effective performer, but doesn’t get enough screen-time to show how strong her skills are.

Worth it?

99 Homes has an arresting first act, and a fantastic second. The film then suddenly decides to take the beaten path with the hurried, disappointingly executed third act that almost waters down two-thirds of its earnest attempts to get to you and suck you in. However, it is still worth one watch at the very least, if only for the strong performances and a power-packed two-thirds of its runtime.

And if not anything else, at the very least you’re probably going to watch Spider-Man and General Zod facing each other off in “the real world”, and as farther away from their flawed universes as possible. And if that does not make it even moderately watchable, I wouldn’t know what will.

Consensus: 3 Stars
Not bad, ain't that?
About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

Watch the trailer

We’re viral

Like UsFollow Us


Rated

R

Starring

Andrew Garfield
Michael Shannon
Laura Dern
Tim Guinee
Noah Lomax

Written by

Amer Naderi
Ramin Bahrani

Directed by

Ramin Bahrani



What to Expect

I think the first time I heard of Ramin Bahrani’s latest feature is about last year, when it was just doing the rounds of the various festivals it has now already been in. And to be honest, apart from possibly the portrayal of an extremely topical situation, I wouldn’t know that to intrinsically expect.

Of course, except for the rather strong cast. And here I was, at the entrance, trying to make sense of the (possibly exorbitant?) praise the film’s received thus far, in heavy contrast to the rather tasteless trailer, giving one the feeling of deja vu within the stratosphere of a relevant independent drama film.

But that was probably just my clouded judgment speaking before the lights began to gradually dim.

What’s it About?

After unceremoniously being evicted from his house and without any jobs to run to, Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield; Never Let Me Go) has no choice but to partner up with Rick Carver (Michael Shannon; Revolutionary Road), the real-estate agent that helped repossess his house back, doing to others exactly what was done to him. And when the money comes in, and the lines between the good and evil blur, Nash is at a risk of falling into a black hole he may never, ever get out of.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

In a world surrounded by darkness

In a world surrounded by darkness

Having expected nothing of it apart from the film’s extremely competent performers, of course, I went in with as clear a mind as possible. The added possible advantage for me here was to get to know a director I had no clue about while watching the movie. What I did, however, know is that Bahrani’s films, more often (Man Push Cart) than not (At Any Price), have received an almost unanimous nod of appreciation from critics and reviewers who’ve watched them. And from the looks of it, 99 Homes was definitely going there; the buzz has been extremely strong for this one.

And once the first five minutes of the film decide to kick in, I could see why. The first act does the deed of effortlessly introducing our characters, tying them up to a particular situation that only goes to build what they have on their side, and how much power do they hold in society. You’re introduced to Shannon’s character with the worst thing that could go wrong with him, and to Garfield’s with the worst thing that Shannon could do with him. Almost predictably, you’re bang within their lives crossing each other when Shannon’s ruthless eviction of Garfield’s family takes place. You, the viewer, is able to fully understand the plight of Garfield’s family and direness of their situation. There’s a hushed up conversation between Dern and Garfield shows symbolically how helpless they feel – and this is not just within conversation. There’s obviously ample exposition with the exchange of words, but the positioning of the conversation past bedtime at night, and the inevitable usage of spare lighting only goes ahead to enhance it. Darkness is specifically used whenever Garfield is shown to be the most emotionally vulnerable, echoing beautifully how he feels about his choices in life. Another example, at a particular possible transitional juncture between the second and third acts, Garfield’s Dennis Nash indirectly talks about his fears with Shannon’s Rick Carver – once again, used with spare lighting, and featuring a surprisingly intimate, desperate, and sometime confused exchange of words. Cinematographer Bobby Bukowski (Infinitely Polar Bear) helps pitch in these interesting stratagems to get a one up on seemingly interesting emotionally attached (and sometimes justifiably dissonant observations).

And when the sharpest sunlight doesn't bother your exposed vulnerabilities...

And when the sharpest sunlight doesn’t bother your exposed vulnerabilities…

The bright, mostly sunlight-filled backdrops aren’t romanticized, but are shown to the audience to probably feel the heat and unjustified nature of the atrocities committed on the evicted, left out of what was once their houses to (shrivel and) dry. This may either be unnoticeable or totally a construction of my imagination of what I felt of the technique symbolically. There’s a certain sharpness in Carver, which is why even his most vulnerable conversations are strewn confidently to Garfield in the openest of spaces, in contrast with Nash, who almost always feels (and, like I’ve stated previously, is visually shown to be) bottled up, either from pressure or desperation.

The biggest achievement of the film is most definitely how progressively terrific the two acts are when looked at together. Every decision made by Nash feels exceedingly humane and realistic; driven out of desperation to save his family – his school-going kid, and his mother, both fairly real, albeit formulaic characters that are made solely to manipulate Nash’s decisions within the screenplay (more on that later). Many a time, when the audience is witness to these evictions –  and you’re able to see how crushed Garfield feels about being an inevitable part of the situation – they may mostly be prone to this very important feeling: a very grateful sense of relief for those who’ve never been evicted in their lives. There’s also a very definite feeling of suffocation in some prime moments, which you’re able to clearly be a part of, considering we’re seeing most of the film lining with Nash’s point of view.

You did good, kid. Thank you.

“You did good, kid. Thank you.”

But then, we’re taken to the third act, where almost everything you’d have expected to happen decides to happen in a predictably to-do list of a fashion. an this is where in contrast to what’s been built up with such care, giving a terrific insight into our two players, the film suddenly becomes about moral conscience. As an argument, one could say that the events in the third act were meant to happen right from the first frame of the film, and how the cards were placed anyway. In such a case, there definitely must have been a better way – or more – to convey the gradual repossession of our protagonist’s moral principles. What we see, if not predictable (which it most definitely is), is a disappointingly hurried race to the film’s end. Yes, the film may never have meant to be character-driven, in favor of a linear story writers Naderi and Bahrani have attempted to narrate to its eventual viewers. What it still did do is disrupt its (accidental?) character studies of Shannon and Garfield in favor of the oldest man-gets-conscience-and-enlightenment trick in the book. While the film’s eventual end is pretty ambiguous and is dramatically toned to perfection, there may most definitely be a nagging want, if only by a few, of the film to have possibly been darker than it eventually ends up.

Which is then a shame, because these few may most definitely feel slightly betrayed for not being given a more viscerally real account of an initially timid character’s eventual potential megalomania on the achievement of so much power, if not the utter disparaging reality of the crisis it means to show.

And I’m possibly one of those few.

To Perform or Not to Perform

The blurring of the lines

The blurring of the lines

What you’re given in the film, and why this film feels so real to everyone watching it totally depends on how great Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon are. Garfield, on the one hand, carries most of his character so well that you’re eventually invested in what he plans to do next, and why he does what he does. Ditto for Shannon, whose electrifying presence and utmost focus in his role completely shows: you’re both angry with, and curious of him and the eventual moves he makes in the micro-chessboard of the film’s parallel universe. Laura Dern is an effective performer, but doesn’t get enough screen-time to show how strong her skills are.

Worth it?

99 Homes has an arresting first act, and a fantastic second. The film then suddenly decides to take the beaten path with the hurried, disappointingly executed third act that almost waters down two-thirds of its earnest attempts to get to you and suck you in. However, it is still worth one watch at the very least, if only for the strong performances and a power-packed two-thirds of its runtime.

And if not anything else, at the very least you’re probably going to watch Spider-Man and General Zod facing each other off in “the real world”, and as farther away from their flawed universes as possible. And if that does not make it even moderately watchable, I wouldn’t know what will.

Consensus: 3 Stars
Not bad, ain't that?
About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

Watch the trailer

We’re viral

Like UsFollow Us

Cast Andrew Garfield
Michael Shannon
Laura Dern
Director Ramin Bahrani
Consensus: 3 Stars
Not bad, ain't that?

What to Expect

The only thing important in life is you.

The only thing important in life is you.

I think the first time I heard of Ramin Bahrani’s latest feature is about last year, when it was just doing the rounds of the various festivals it has now already been in. And to be honest, apart from possibly the portrayal of an extremely topical situation, I wouldn’t know that to intrinsically expect.

Of course, except for the rather strong cast. And here I was, at the entrance, trying to make sense of the (possibly exorbitant?) praise the film’s received thus far, in heavy contrast to the rather tasteless trailer, giving one the feeling of deja vu within the stratosphere of a relevant independent drama film.

But that was probably just my clouded judgment speaking before the lights began to gradually dim.

What’s it About?

After unceremoniously being evicted from his house and without any jobs to run to, Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield; Never Let Me Go) has no choice but to partner up with Rick Carver (Michael Shannon; Revolutionary Road), the real-estate agent that helped repossess his house back, doing to others exactly what was done to him. And when the money comes in, and the lines between the good and evil blur, Nash is at a risk of falling into a black hole he may never, ever get out of.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

In a world surrounded by darkness

In a world surrounded by darkness

Having expected nothing of it apart from the film’s extremely competent performers, of course, I went in with as clear a mind as possible. The added possible advantage for me here was to get to know a director I had no clue about while watching the movie. What I did, however, know is that Bahrani’s films, more often (Man Push Cart) than not (At Any Price), have received an almost unanimous nod of appreciation from critics and reviewers who’ve watched them. And from the looks of it, 99 Homes was definitely going there; the buzz has been extremely strong for this one.

And once the first five minutes of the film decide to kick in, I could see why. The first act does the deed of effortlessly introducing our characters, tying them up to a particular situation that only goes to build what they have on their side, and how much power do they hold in society. You’re introduced to Shannon’s character with the worst thing that could go wrong with him, and to Garfield’s with the worst thing that Shannon could do with him. Almost predictably, you’re bang within their lives crossing each other when Shannon’s ruthless eviction of Garfield’s family takes place. You, the viewer, is able to fully understand the plight of Garfield’s family and direness of their situation. There’s a hushed up conversation between Dern and Garfield shows symbolically how helpless they feel – and this is not just within conversation. There’s obviously ample exposition with the exchange of words, but the positioning of the conversation past bedtime at night, and the inevitable usage of spare lighting only goes ahead to enhance it. Darkness is specifically used whenever Garfield is shown to be the most emotionally vulnerable, echoing beautifully how he feels about his choices in life. Another example, at a particular possible transitional juncture between the second and third acts, Garfield’s Dennis Nash indirectly talks about his fears with Shannon’s Rick Carver – once again, used with spare lighting, and featuring a surprisingly intimate, desperate, and sometime confused exchange of words. Cinematographer Bobby Bukowski (Infinitely Polar Bear) helps pitch in these interesting stratagems to get a one up on seemingly interesting emotionally attached (and sometimes justifiably dissonant observations).

And when the sharpest sunlight doesn't bother your exposed vulnerabilities...

And when the sharpest sunlight doesn’t bother your exposed vulnerabilities…

The bright, mostly sunlight-filled backdrops aren’t romanticized, but are shown to the audience to probably feel the heat and unjustified nature of the atrocities committed on the evicted, left out of what was once their houses to (shrivel and) dry. This may either be unnoticeable or totally a construction of my imagination of what I felt of the technique symbolically. There’s a certain sharpness in Carver, which is why even his most vulnerable conversations are strewn confidently to Garfield in the openest of spaces, in contrast with Nash, who almost always feels (and, like I’ve stated previously, is visually shown to be) bottled up, either from pressure or desperation.

The biggest achievement of the film is most definitely how progressively terrific the two acts are when looked at together. Every decision made by Nash feels exceedingly humane and realistic; driven out of desperation to save his family – his school-going kid, and his mother, both fairly real, albeit formulaic characters that are made solely to manipulate Nash’s decisions within the screenplay (more on that later). Many a time, when the audience is witness to these evictions –  and you’re able to see how crushed Garfield feels about being an inevitable part of the situation – they may mostly be prone to this very important feeling: a very grateful sense of relief for those who’ve never been evicted in their lives. There’s also a very definite feeling of suffocation in some prime moments, which you’re able to clearly be a part of, considering we’re seeing most of the film lining with Nash’s point of view.

You did good, kid. Thank you.

“You did good, kid. Thank you.”

But then, we’re taken to the third act, where almost everything you’d have expected to happen decides to happen in a predictably to-do list of a fashion. an this is where in contrast to what’s been built up with such care, giving a terrific insight into our two players, the film suddenly becomes about moral conscience. As an argument, one could say that the events in the third act were meant to happen right from the first frame of the film, and how the cards were placed anyway. In such a case, there definitely must have been a better way – or more – to convey the gradual repossession of our protagonist’s moral principles. What we see, if not predictable (which it most definitely is), is a disappointingly hurried race to the film’s end. Yes, the film may never have meant to be character-driven, in favor of a linear story writers Naderi and Bahrani have attempted to narrate to its eventual viewers. What it still did do is disrupt its (accidental?) character studies of Shannon and Garfield in favor of the oldest man-gets-conscience-and-enlightenment trick in the book. While the film’s eventual end is pretty ambiguous and is dramatically toned to perfection, there may most definitely be a nagging want, if only by a few, of the film to have possibly been darker than it eventually ends up.

Which is then a shame, because these few may most definitely feel slightly betrayed for not being given a more viscerally real account of an initially timid character’s eventual potential megalomania on the achievement of so much power, if not the utter disparaging reality of the crisis it means to show.

And I’m possibly one of those few.

To Perform or Not to Perform

The blurring of the lines

The blurring of the lines

What you’re given in the film, and why this film feels so real to everyone watching it totally depends on how great Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon are. Garfield, on the one hand, carries most of his character so well that you’re eventually invested in what he plans to do next, and why he does what he does. Ditto for Shannon, whose electrifying presence and utmost focus in his role completely shows: you’re both angry with, and curious of him and the eventual moves he makes in the micro-chessboard of the film’s parallel universe. Laura Dern is an effective performer, but doesn’t get enough screen-time to show how strong her skills are.

Worth it?

99 Homes has an arresting first act, and a fantastic second. The film then suddenly decides to take the beaten path with the hurried, disappointingly executed third act that almost waters down two-thirds of its earnest attempts to get to you and suck you in. However, it is still worth one watch at the very least, if only for the strong performances and a power-packed two-thirds of its runtime.

And if not anything else, at the very least you’re probably going to watch Spider-Man and General Zod facing each other off in “the real world”, and as farther away from their flawed universes as possible. And if that does not make it even moderately watchable, I wouldn’t know what will.

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

We’re viral

Like usFollow us
Cast Andrew Garfield
Michael Shannon
Laura Dern
Director Ramin Bahrani
Consensus: 3 Stars
Not bad, ain't that?

What to Expect

I think the first time I heard of Ramin Bahrani’s latest feature is about last year, when it was just doing the rounds of the various festivals it has now already been in. And to be honest, apart from possibly the portrayal of an extremely topical situation, I wouldn’t know that to intrinsically expect.

Of course, except for the rather strong cast. And here I was, at the entrance, trying to make sense of the (possibly exorbitant?) praise the film’s received thus far, in heavy contrast to the rather tasteless trailer, giving one the feeling of deja vu within the stratosphere of a relevant independent drama film.

But that was probably just my clouded judgment speaking before the lights began to gradually dim.

What’s it About?

After unceremoniously being evicted from his house and without any jobs to run to, Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield; Never Let Me Go) has no choice but to partner up with Rick Carver (Michael Shannon; Revolutionary Road), the real-estate agent that helped repossess his house back, doing to others exactly what was done to him. And when the money comes in, and the lines between the good and evil blur, Nash is at a risk of falling into a black hole he may never, ever get out of.

In a world surrounded by darkness

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Having expected nothing of it apart from the film’s extremely competent performers, of course, I went in with as clear a mind as possible. The added possible advantage for me here was to get to know a director I had no clue about while watching the movie. What I did, however, know is that Bahrani’s films, more often (Man Push Cart) than not (At Any Price), have received an almost unanimous nod of appreciation from critics and reviewers who’ve watched them. And from the looks of it, 99 Homes was definitely going there; the buzz has been extremely strong for this one.

And once the first five minutes of the film decide to kick in, I could see why. The first act does the deed of effortlessly introducing our characters, tying them up to a particular situation that only goes to build what they have on their side, and how much power do they hold in society. You’re introduced to Shannon’s character with the worst thing that could go wrong with him, and to Garfield’s with the worst thing that Shannon could do with him. Almost predictably, you’re bang within their lives crossing each other when Shannon’s ruthless eviction of Garfield’s family takes place. You, the viewer, is able to fully understand the plight of Garfield’s family and direness of their situation. There’s a hushed up conversation between Dern and Garfield shows symbolically how helpless they feel – and this is not just within conversation. There’s obviously ample exposition with the exchange of words, but the positioning of the conversation past bedtime at night, and the inevitable usage of spare lighting only goes ahead to enhance it. Darkness is specifically used whenever Garfield is shown to be the most emotionally vulnerable, echoing beautifully how he feels about his choices in life. Another example, at a particular possible transitional juncture between the second and third acts, Garfield’s Dennis Nash indirectly talks about his fears with Shannon’s Rick Carver – once again, used with spare lighting, and featuring a surprisingly intimate, desperate, and sometime confused exchange of words. Cinematographer Bobby Bukowski (Infinitely Polar Bear) helps pitch in these interesting stratagems to get a one up on seemingly interesting emotionally attached (and sometimes justifiably dissonant observations).

And when the sharpest sunlight doesn't bother your exposed vulnerabilities...

The bright, mostly sunlight-filled backdrops aren’t romanticized, but are shown to the audience to probably feel the heat and unjustified nature of the atrocities committed on the evicted, left out of what was once their houses to (shrivel and) dry. This may either be unnoticeable or totally a construction of my imagination of what I felt of the technique symbolically. There’s a certain sharpness in Carver, which is why even his most vulnerable conversations are strewn confidently to Garfield in the openest of spaces, in contrast with Nash, who almost always feels (and, like I’ve stated previously, is visually shown to be) bottled up, either from pressure or desperation.

The biggest achievement of the film is most definitely how progressively terrific the two acts are when looked at together. Every decision made by Nash feels exceedingly humane and realistic; driven out of desperation to save his family – his school-going kid, and his mother, both fairly real, albeit formulaic characters that are made solely to manipulate Nash’s decisions within the screenplay (more on that later). Many a time, when the audience is witness to these evictions –  and you’re able to see how crushed Garfield feels about being an inevitable part of the situation – they may mostly be prone to this very important feeling: a very grateful sense of relief for those who’ve never been evicted in their lives. There’s also a very definite feeling of suffocation in some prime moments, which you’re able to clearly be a part of, considering we’re seeing most of the film lining with Nash’s point of view.

But then, we’re taken to the third act, where almost everything you’d have expected to happen decides to happen in a predictably to-do list of a fashion. an this is where in contrast to what’s been built up with such care, giving a terrific insight into our two players, the film suddenly becomes about moral conscience. As an argument, one could say that the events in the third act were meant to happen right from the first frame of the film, and how the cards were placed anyway. In such a case, there definitely must have been a better way – or more – to convey the gradual repossession of our protagonist’s moral principles. What we see, if not predictable (which it most definitely is), is a disappointingly hurried race to the film’s end. Yes, the film may never have meant to be character-driven, in favor of a linear story writers Naderi and Bahrani have attempted to narrate to its eventual viewers. What it still did do is disrupt its (accidental?) character studies of Shannon and Garfield in favor of the oldest man-gets-conscience-and-enlightenment trick in the book. While the film’s eventual end is pretty ambiguous and is dramatically toned to perfection, there may most definitely be a nagging want, if only by a few, of the film to have possibly been darker than it eventually ends up.

Which is then a shame, because these few may most definitely feel slightly betrayed for not being given a more viscerally real account of an initially timid character’s eventual potential megalomania on the achievement of so much power, if not the utter disparaging reality of the crisis it means to show.

And I’m possibly one of those few.

The blurring of the lines

To Perform or Not to Perform

What you’re given in the film, and why this film feels so real to everyone watching it totally depends on how great Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon are. Garfield, on the one hand, carries most of his character so well that you’re eventually invested in what he plans to do next, and why he does what he does. Ditto for Shannon, whose electrifying presence and utmost focus in his role completely shows: you’re both angry with, and curious of him and the eventual moves he makes in the micro-chessboard of the film’s parallel universe. Laura Dern is an effective performer, but doesn’t get enough screen-time to show how strong her skills are.

Worth it?

99 Homes has an arresting first act, and a fantastic second. The film then suddenly decides to take the beaten path with the hurried, disappointingly executed third act that almost waters down two-thirds of its earnest attempts to get to you and suck you in. However, it is still worth one watch at the very least, if only for the strong performances and a power-packed two-thirds of its runtime.

And if not anything else, at the very least you’re probably going to watch Spider-Man and General Zod facing each other off in “the real world”, and as farther away from their flawed universes as possible. And if that does not make it even moderately watchable, I wouldn’t know what will.

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

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