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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26

Greed Is ‘Hood

Jorge Ignacio Castillo
Published Thursday January 21, 05:15 pm
Mortgage crisis becomes morality play in 99 Homes

99 Homes
Broadway Theatre
Opens Friday 29
3.5 out of 5

Shot long before Oscar nominee The Big Short, 99 Homes tackles the 2007 housing bubble from a more human perspective than the Adam McKay farce. While Wall Street-centric flicks are unavoidably cold, this Florida-set drama puts a face to both sides of the economic calamity: the victims and the vultures who profited from their misfortune.

Dennis (Andrew Garfield, freed from his Spider-Man shackles) is a handyman who loses his home at hands of a court-appointed agent (a terrific Michael Shannon), who not only gets paid for supervising the repossession, but also takes a cut from the ensuing resale. In desperation, Dennis accepts a job proposal from the same bully and his ethics take a hit. The money is too good to allow pesky morals to get in the way.

Without having to explain the twisted financial tools that caused the mortgage crisis, 99 Homes gets the point across. There is no way to avoid the buzzards and those in need can’t afford to be choosy, yet a modicum of decency can make a difference. There’s nothing surprising about the plot, but there is tremendous value in showing the profiteers’ modus operandi (even the most far-fetched eviction has a real-life referent).

A couple of scenes are guaranteed to have your blood boiling.

Directed by Ramin Bahrani (At Any Price), a filmmaker who loves pitting materialism against principles, 99 Homes benefits from the dark master-pupil dynamics embodied by Garfield and Shannon. The latter in particular keeps his villain above caricature. He’s just a natural byproduct of unrestrained greed. 

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