Andrew Garfield flaunts his indie credentials in his first non-‘Spiderman’ role since ‘The Social Network’. It’s a predictable mid-franchise move, but he’s picked a winner with this white-hot angry repossession drama set in recession-hit Florida in 2010. As Spidey, Garfield’s acting super power is being a normal kid, and here he’s totally convincing as Dennis Nash, a young single dad and out-of-work builder whose home is repossessed after falling three months behind on his mortgage repayments.
The film opens with the repossession of another house by greedy scumbag property tycoon Rick Carver, played by the terrific and frankly terrifying Michael Shannon (‘Mud’). In the game of life, Carver is a winner. He’s made a killing buying and flipping repossessed homes and can barely keep his lip from curling into a sneer in front these snivelling losers. Over and over, director and co-writer Ramin Bahrani ('Man Push Cart') shoots these repossessions as grippingly as a bank heist or a murder. For these people, just as much is at stake – they are losing their homes, their lives. After repossessing Nash’s house, Carver gives him a job. He likes the kid; he’s a good worker. It’s also a vanity thing – it inflates his ego to make Nash his protégé and impart his wisdom.
Nash knows that he shouldn’t be working for Carver: that's why he can’t bring himself to tell his mum or son about his new job. And Bahrani spins this moral dilemma into a tense, riveting thriller. ‘If you work for me, you’re mine,’ Carver tells Nash, who begins by doing fix-up jobs on vacant properties but is soon promoted to carrying out actual repossessions: arriving on the doorstep with a court order, informing families that the bank now owns their home.
Carver has zero problems justifying how he makes his millions: he’s not the government who relaxed lending laws; he’s not the banks that lent money to families who could never pay it back; he's not the guy who borrowed too much money for a house he couldn’t afford. Why blame him? The system is screwing the little guy – he’s just making a buck out if. For Nash, the job is just a means to an end, until he gets back on his feet. At least that’s what he tells himself at the start of this hopeful and despairing film about human nature and America. The big question is: Why haven’t we seen more films like this since the financial crash?