“You think America gives a flying rat’s ass about you, or me? America doesn’t bail out losers,” Michael Shannon’s opportunistic real estate broker admonishes Andrew Garfield. This heavy-handed thesis about American capitalism comes at the climax of the trailer for Ramin Bahrani’s 99 Homes, and is part of what The A.V. Club’s A.A. Dowd objected to when he saw the film at Sundance.
Of course, it’s the type of strongly delivered, socially conscious message that many critics and studio chiefs do like, and Sundance is one of several film festivals where 99 Homes screened while it waited for a theatrical release. Garfield stars as a suburban dad whose family is evicted under the watchful eye of police—and Shannon—in the opening scenes of the trailer. As he moves his wife, child, and mother, played by Laura Dern, into a hotel, it looks like we might be getting a movie about a family trying to preserve its dignity while squaring itself with the prospect of temporary homelessness. But you don’t don’t hire General Zod just to make a scowling cameo, and the story veers into the familiar territory of Wall Street, The Firm, and Revenge Of The Sith. Garfield, desperate for work, returns to Shannon, who slowly grooms him to do his bidding. Garfield allows himself to be led down a dark path, slowly mirroring Shannon in his actions, if not in his nature.
99 Homes will squint at you with menacing disgust when it hits theaters on September 25.