January 13, 2016 -- This intense drama opens with families being tossed out of their homes by police, bankers and real estate brokers, and the intensity level keeps ratcheting up from there.
Everybody knows about the financial system meltdown that started in 2008 and continued for several years as a deep recession. The U.S. economy had been built on bad mortgages, and it collapsed. This story, set in 2010, tells the story of how one Florida real estate broker made money while most people lost money, and he didn't make it honestly.
Dennis Nash (played by Andrew Garfield of “The Amazing Spider-Man”) a construction worker in Orlando finds himself out of work when the housing market goes south in Florida, and he and his family become homeless due to foreclosure. They are tossed out on the street by police and heartless real estate broker Rick Carver (Michael Shannon of “Premium Rush”).
Nash, a talented and versatile construction worker, can't find work anywhere, until he finally finds a job with Rick Carver, of all people. At first, he does repair work on houses, moving appliances, fixtures and air conditioning units from one building to another. He quickly learns that he is defrauding the government, which pays to replace what he is removing from houses financed with federally insured loans. There is another scam involving an incentive fee paid to people who move out early.
Soon, Nash finds himself working as a partner with Carver, kicking people out of their homes, just as he was kicked out of his home. Nash's mother, Lynn (Laura Dern of “Wild”) and son (Noah Lomax of “Safe Haven”) are kept in the dark about what his job really is and who he is working for. Nash knows they won't approve.
Nash finds out there is big money to be made in the kind of increasingly ambitious real estate scams that Carver is developing with big investors. Nash finds himself sabotaging homes owned by a rival company in order to enable himself and Carver to take over some 1,000 homes in a major real estate deal. He is now playing with the big boys.
Eventually, however, his secret occupation becomes known to his mother and son, and his sudden fortune comes tumbling down around his ears. Andrew Garfield does a nice job in this film as a good guy who is gradually corrupted by money. Garfield is very convincing in his portrayal of desperation, anger, remorse and grief.
Michael Shannon gives an exceptional performance as a real estate broker who is absolutely determined to succeed in a business where most are failing, by any means necessary. He is very good a rationalizing everything he does, but at heart, he knows he is just a white collar criminal. This is revealed in a surprising scene near the end of the film. Just when you expect him to be angry, he expresses acceptance.
I have not seen another film that so effectively shows the human tragedy of home foreclosures. A number of evictions are shown in the film, and a number of different reactions from the people as they realize that they no longer own their own homes. This is hard to watch at times. This film rates a B.
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