Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, Laura Dern, Tim Guinee, Noah Lomax, Clancy Brown, J.D. Evermore
Written by: Ramin Bahrani, based on a story by Ramin Bahrani, Amir Naderi, Bahareh Azimi
Directed by: Ramin Bahrani
MPAA Rating: R for language including some sexual references, and a brief violent image
Running Time: 112
Date: 09/25/2015
IMDB

99 Homes (2015)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Foreclose Encounters

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The acclaimed indie filmmaker Ramin Bahrani (Goodbye Solo), who regularly and bravely focuses on heartbreaking trials of life while keeping his stories rooted in humanity, turns in some of his finest work. A work of great power and subtlety, 99 Homes manages to talk about one of today's most pressing and troubling issues without getting preachy or overbearing. At the same time, the movie borrows the classical structure of the Faust story, but still manages to feel immediate and relevant.

Independent contractor Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) does his best to support his mother (Laura Dern) and his son (Noah Lomax) with his increasingly intermittent income, but the day comes when the bank sends a foreclosure notice. Dennis does his best to navigate the red tape to save his house, but time runs out, and the slick, no-nonsense broker Rick Carver (Michael Shannon) shows up to kick them out. An angered Dennis later confronts Rick and finds himself with a job offer. As he rises through the ranks of Rick's organization, he finds ways to cheat the bank, and his paychecks increase. He dreams of getting his old house back, but when he begins foreclosing on others, he begins to realize that he may have compromised his soul.

Perhaps its this merging of the classical and modern that makes the movie work so well, or maybe it's the impressive performances. Michael Shannon has rarely been used so well, his sinister, snaky countenance and his weird charm crossing paths. Andrew Garfield is commanding, and heartbreaking. Certain moments (losing the home) beautifully capture a kind of short-of-breath panic and others (earning dirty money) a kind of sickening elation, but all of it is remarkably immediate, and remarkably human.

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