The new film 99 Homes follows a realtor and an evictee during the 2010 housing crisis in Florida. The film is written and directed by Ramin Bahrani and stars Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon and Laura Dern.
In the film, Garfield plays Dennis Nash, a poor construction worker whose family is evicted during the housing crisis, after which he's quickly seduced and mentored by an amoral real-estate developer (Michael Shannon) who convinces him that the only path to prosperity is to snatch it away from others. Laura Dern plays Garfield's mother a hairdresser who lives with her son and grandson.
The 32-year-old Brit earned global attention for his role in two Spiderman films and his performance opposite Jesse Eisenberg in, The Social Network.
Set in Orlando Florida, 99 Homes is a riveting take on the foreclosure housing crisis that left many Americans stranded. The film hones in on the people at the bottom – those who have lost everything and the minority that has ruthlessly exploited them.
Bharani was invested when it came to telling this story. He thrououghly researched the situation and spent time with many of the people who were affected. He started reading and researching out of his home in Brooklyn before venturing out to see for himself. There were four states that were the epicentres of this disaster. One of them was Florida. So he travelled down there to investigate and the story illuminated itself very quickly. He met with Lynne Simoniak, a fraud attorney who had led a lawsuit on behalf of the government against the banks, to the tune of $100 million. She was a lynchpin in a lot of the housing crises. She uncovered robo-signing and all the fraudulent paperwork – the kind you see in the film.
From there, Bharani delved deeper into the intricacies of the various operations of property developers, leading to a very disturbing revelation. He discovered Rocket Dockets, which are the foreclosure courts. They’re called that because it takes 60 seconds to decide your fate. Then he met a lot of real estate brokers. Everyone he encountered, brokers who went door to door to evict people from their homes actually carried a gun. It was then Bahrahni knew that he had to tell this story on the big screen and soon after it wasn’t hard for him to get his dream cast that included Garfield, Shannon and Dern.
I had the opportunity to sit down with the film’s stars Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon and Laura Dern to talk about the film and what home means to them.
99 Homes opens on Oct 9 in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal