TIFF : 99 HOMES

Desperate to save his family home, an unemployed construction worker (Andrew Garfield) joins an unscrupulous realtor (Michael Shannon) in the dirty business of foreclosing on the disenfranchised, in this enthralling and timely drama from acclaimed director Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart, Chop Shop).

In such acclaimed films as Man Push Cart, Chop Shop, and Goodbye Solo, American director Ramin Bahrani created compassionate portraits of ordinary people struggling to survive within a society that does little to aid them. Set amid the US housing-market meltdown of the last decade, his latest feature, 99 Homes, is his most compelling to date: an intimate and moving chronicle of a family that has become one of the many casualties of a culture of relentless consumption and economic overextension.

With employment opportunities drying up as a result of the US economy’s implosion, construction worker Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) has fallen disastrously behind in his mortgage payments. Evicted from the house by local realtor Rick Carver (Michael Shannon) — a slick, hard-nosed operator who has found a lucrative calling in these lean times as an axeman for the banks — Dennis finds temporary housing in a motel while he desperately scrambles to keep even this roof over his family’s heads. Soon Dennis finds Carver on his doorstep once again — this time with an offer of a job, and a promise to help Dennis reclaim his family home. Unable to resist, Dennis enters a world of shady transactions and charged moral ambiguity, where the losses of the many are the gain of a few.

Garfield does his best work to date in his nuanced portrayal of a moral man in an immoral world, while Shannon vividly illustrates the visceral need underlying Carver’s manic drive to succeed, giving dimension and depth to this seemingly cold and calculating man. Enthralling, provocative and timely, 99 Homes is simply not to be missed.

JANE SCHOETTLE

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