Iranian-American filmmaker Ramin Bahrani has emerged as our answer to the Dardenne brothers, a proven storyteller with a deep loyalty to the underclass. Man Push Cart (2005) told of a Pakistani rock singer reduced to peddling coffee and bagels on the streets of Manhattan; Chop Shop (2007) focused on two Puerto Rican siblings scavenging metal to supply the scrap yards and auto shops near Shea Stadium; and Goodbye Solo, set in Bahrani’s native Winston-Salem, paired a gentle Senegalese cab driver with a suicidally depressed good old boy. Hoping to go mainstream, Bahrani faltered badly with At Any Price (2012), a more conventional political parable about GMOs starring Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron; now he’s back with 99 Homes, which seems similarly pointed in its social observation but also promises more searing emotion. Michael Shannon stars as Rick Carver, a ruthless real estate broker who evicts Andrew Garfield and his little family from their home; desperate for work, the father hires on with Carver and gets pulled into his ugly business. “America doesn’t bail out the losers,” Carver declares in the trailer. “America was built by bailing out winners, by rigging a nation of the winners, for the winners, by the winners. Only one in a hundred’s gonna get on that ark.” Though best known now as Spider-Man, Garfield is reliably heart-wrenching (cf. the British drama Boy A), and almost any movie is worth seeing for the terror of Shannon’s dead-eyed gaze. Laura Dern costars.
Opens 10/2, general release.