Garfield is terrific at coercing the audience to empathise with him, even when he's clearly losing his way. Each conflict he encounters puts the audience in the painful position of having to choose between Nash's security and the ethically acceptable thing to do, creating a fascinating moral conundrum and a chance for self-reflection. The urgency of Bahrani's approach means 99 Homes is not just an emotionally affecting thriller, but an exhilarating one too. This kinetic rhythm is conveyed through some adroit technical work, with Anthony Partos and Matteo Zingales pulsating score escalating the tension whilst Cinematographer Bobby Bukowski's crisp composition compresses this explosive energy within the frame. However, the film's greatest achievement is Alex DiGerlando's production design.
Understanding the richly textured layers of memory and history that make a house a home, DiGerlando's clear demarcation between the warmth of Nash's family house and the cold mausoleum shells of Carver's vast accumulation of vacated properties accentuates what happens when the heart and soul is forcible ripped from a building. Smart and entertaining thrillers are far too rare in mainstream filmmaking, with those that find their way to a theatrical release often struggling to find a balance between emotional exploitation and articulating the traumatic impact of their subject. While 99 Homes does suffer from some contrived plotting and character development, Bahrani has also produced a timely portrait of the human cost of the housing crisis.
Patrick Gamble | @PatrickJGamble