Having escaped “The Amazing Spider-Man” universe intact, Andrew Garfield gives one of his best performances to date in the tense and timely thriller “99 Homes.” In the movie he plays Daniel Nash, an unemployed contractor and construction worker who gets evicted from his home along with his mother Lynn (Laura Dern) and son Connor (newcomer Noah Lomax). In an effort to get his home back, Daniel ends up working for real estate magnate Rick Carver (Michael Shannon), the same man who evicted him and his family, and in the process becomes his protégé and learns how to work the housing market to make a lot of cash. This leads to Daniel making more money than he ever dreamed of, but considering that he’s doing to others what Rick did to him, this newfound wealth is going to come at a high moral price for him.
“99 Homes” is an urgent thriller that demands your attention as it deals with the housing crisis which erupted in America in 2010 and with the insatiable greed that followed. Garfield makes Daniel into a very empathetic character, and it’s hard not to feel bad for him even as he makes a Faustian bargain to get his house back. You share in Daniel’s fury of being evicted so unjustly, and you still root for him even as he becomes more and more ethically bankrupt. Some will call Daniel a traitor while others will see him as just another guy trying to survive in an increasingly crazy world. In the end, we have to ask ourselves what we would have done if we were in his dire situation.
Garfield was one of several cast members who appeared at the press day for “99 Homes” which was held recently in Los Angeles, California at the Four Seasons Hotel. I pointed out that while this movie is about money, greed and ethics, it is also about survival and what we are willing to do to keep a roof over our head and food on the table. I asked Garfield what he felt “99 Homes” said the most about survival, and he answered my question in a very personal way.
Andrew Garfield: “I betray myself every day. I betray myself in small ways, in big ways in order to fit in, in order to be accepted and in order to stay on the path I think I’m supposed to be on. I feel afraid a lot as well in the modern world. I feel a lot of fear about instability to be honest. I don’t feel a great foundation in our culture as of now. I think there are great things happening, there are soulful things happening usually on the outskirts, but it takes a great deal of treasure hunting to find those things or find something that’s deep and meaningful. I’m so grateful and lucky. Thank God for storytelling and thank God for this medium of storytelling because without this I would be lost, I know I would be. This is a big part of survival for me that I get to give myself to something that feels meaningful. And that’s why, when a story like this comes along, it’s really impossible to say no because it’s very rare, the essence of what this story is. That’s my very shallow answer to a very difficult question.”
To be honest it didn’t sound like a shallow answer at all, and it’s not hard to see that Garfield put all of his heart and soul into this project. It should go without saying that there’s much more to this actor than playing Spider-Man, and we should expect to see many more great performances from him in the future.
“99 Homes” opens in limited release on September 25, and it will go into wide release on October 9. Be sure to check it out.