Prepping his Venice Competition title 99 Homes, helmer Ramin Bahrani says he was made “dizzy by the corruption” in the Florida foreclosure system. The film is set in 2010 Orlando and follows Andrew Garfield as an unemployed construction worker and single father whose family loses its home. Michael Shannon, who was warmly welcomed here in 2012’s The Iceman, plays the real estate broker who evicts him. The pair ultimately make a kind of Faustian pact that sees Garfield morph to the dark side. The visceral film is a response to the corrupt system that’s “been rigged for those who win,” Bahrani said. Reactions here have been widely positive, and while the movie is talked about as Man Push Cart and At Any Price helmer Bahrani’s best chance so far to cross over, it might be a tough sell to U.S. audiences reticent to revisit the period. However, the film — which is getting some awards buzz — is structured as a tense, Faustian thriller so that combination should help its appeal. Both actors spent time researching their parts in Florida, and Garfield provided notes to Bahrani from his Rte. 142 motel on a daily basis which the socially conscious director worked into the script. The Orlando location was a deliberate choice. “Of course I picked Orlando for Disney big time,” Bahrani said of the juxtaposition of the Magic Kingdom and the realities going on around it. The film is dedicated to the late Roger Ebert with whom Bahrani was close. “People sitting in this room have to continue the fight he was pushing for all the time, in America and internationally, for good cinema — cinema that is more than a selfie,” Bahrani admonished the Venice press corps. Here is a clip from 99 Homes.
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