Following a pair of hit “Spider-Man” movies, Andrew Garfield has his first meaty, grown-up role in the excellent new “99 Homes,” and it could not be a better fit.
Written and directed by Ramin Bahrani, “99 Homes” tells the Faustian story of Dennis Nash (Garfield), who, when he is evicted from his home, ends up working for the broker, Rick Carver (Michael Shannon), who ousted him.
Strong, classical characters make the movie a profoundly human experience rather than issue-driven.
In his own life, Garfield is something of an activist; he has used paparazzi photos to promote charities, and speaks out in favor of gay marriage.
Yet during a recent visit to The City to promote “99 Homes,” Garfield doesn’t discuss a specific issue; like the movie, he focuses on compassion.
“We all have compassion for Dennis. It’s timeless,” says Garfield, describing the lure of power for someone who has been powerless. However, Garfield says his character always seemed aware of the pitfalls of his situation.
In one scene, Carver gives a chilling speech about how “no one bails out the losers.”
“I think the original idea of that scene is that everything he’s saying is ringing true to me, but in fact, my experience was totally different,” Garfield says. “He has laid out the reality. You either f— over your fellow man, or you’re homeless. That’s the position you’re in. Deal with that.”
The 32 year-old — who was born in Los Angeles and has dual US/UK citizenship — describes a scene in John Ford’s 1940 “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940) when a guy rolls up on a tractor to evict his neighbor.
“The guy says, ‘if it’s not me in this seat it’s going to be some other guy and I’ve got to live too.’ You kind of get it on both sides,” says Garfield. “Everyone’s a victim.”
Though he considers our current system a failure for not acknowledging individuals, Garfield has hope that things can change.
“The problem is, it’s not gonna be one person to ever do it,” he says. “These superhero journey things are kind of a fallacy. It’s not going to take one person to save the planet or save us from ourselves, it’s going to take every single person. Each individual is needed.”
Perhaps “99 Homes” will be a baby step, then. “Yes!” he says excitedly. “That’s all I wish it to be. A baby step is a leap for me.”
IF YOU GO: 99 Homes
Starring Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, Laura Dern, Noah Lomax
Written by Ramin Bahrani, Amir Naderi, Bahareh Azimi
Directed by Ramin Bahrani
Running time 1 hour, 52 minutes