VENICE FILM FESTIVAL: A film that has been keeping its clutches in my thoughts since I heard the premise is Ramin Baharani’s 99 Homes starring Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon. A piece seemed to exude a similar vibe to Vadim Perelman’s greatly acted House of Sand and Fog. Based on the early reviews that have poured in from the Venice Film Festival, there have been more comparisons to David Cronenberg and Cosmopolis and Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
Co-starring Laura Dern, the film is set to screen at the Telluride Film Festival tomorrow and then move on to the Toronto Film Festival in early September.
Based on most of the reviews I’ve scanned through, it seems to be a successful outing for young Bahrani, who’s recent efforts At Any Price and Goodbye Solo went virtually ignored, but with a few admirers. A strong case for the film could be acting nominations during the awards season based on those reviews. If given a release date, this could find Andrew Garfield in the mix in Lead Actor, following his snub for The Social Network in 2010. We could also get Michael Shannon back in the Oscar race in Supporting, who’s closest run in with awards since his first nomination for Revolutionary Road, was for his turn in Take Shelter.
Check out some of the excerpts below along with a clip released today of the film.
Nicholas Barber of the BBC says Shannon’s character may be a new wave of iconic:
Stand aside, Gordon Gekko. Michael Douglas’s Mephistophelian Wall Street corporate raider may stand as the emblem of 1980s rapacity, but now he has a successor for the credit-crunch era: Rick Carver (Michael Shannon), a granite-hearted real estate wheeler-dealer who views life as a game of Monopoly. Like Gekko, he’s a charismatic, unapologetic cheerleader for making as much money as the US government’s loose regulations will allow – plus some that they won’t. And like Gekko he has a knack for phrases that sum up the spirit of the age.
Guy Lodge of Variety likes it quite a bit:
The number of properties referred to in the title of Ramin Bahrani’s fifth feature may have a literal narrative significance, but it must also refer to the population percentage routinely branded as the victims of Occupy-era economic downturn. The perils of illegally gained One Percent privilege make for engrossing, high-stakes viewing in “99 Homes,” which sees Andrew Garfield’s blue-collared Florida everyman enter a Faustian pact with Michael Shannon’s white-blazered real-estate shark. Following the lead of 2012’s underrated “At Any Price” in matching the socially conscious topicality of Bahrani’s early films to the demands of broader-brush melodrama, this dynamically acted, unapologetically contrived pic reps the filmmaker’s best chance to date of connecting with a wider audience — one likely to share the helmer’s bristling anger over corruptly maintained class divides in modern-day America.
John Bleasdale of CineVue recommends it:
Bahrani’s latest feels like a direct riposte to Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street (2013), whilst channelling Scorsese’s earlier gangster movie vibe and energy. Nash is almost like a Donnie Brasco or Michael Corleone, entering into a world to which he is fundamentally morally opposed but becoming increasingly complicit and exposed as he finds himself surprisingly adept at the dark arts. His relationship with Carver turns from initial hatred to something like admiration, as he gazes with wonder at Carver’s palatial homes and material wealth, listening to Carver rap out a Manichean world-view that makes Gordon Gekko look like a bleeding-heart socialist. “Are you a religious man, Nash? For ever one saved, a hundred drowned,” he schools his protégé. Garfield convincingly portrays Nash’s move to the dark side as a gradual but compelling series of compromises.
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian praises the performances and the film:
It is a taut, lean drama that plays with pitiless accuracy on the horror of bankruptcy, the fear of losing everything. Bahrani cleverly points up the awful moment-by-moment details: the last, futile call to one’s useless lawyer as Carter and his men arrive, the pure bewilderment and, perhaps most painful of all, the habit of aggressively addressing everyone as “sir”. The cops will call the defaulter “sir” as he is being evicted; the defaulter himself will repeatedly address the bailiffs as “sir” with shrill and futile demands that they leave the property. Even at the nadir of despair, this pseudo-politeness is maintained.