Sean Durkin’s intricate family drama The Nest brings two powerhouse performances from his two leads. In addition, it showcases the pitfalls of yearning for power and money when you already have a perfect life.
Rory (Jude Law), an ambitious entrepreneur, persuades his wife Allison (Carrie Coon) and their children to leave America and return to his native England during the 1980s. Sensing an opportunity, Rory rejoins his former firm and leases a centuries-old country manor. However, all is not as it seems, and soon, the promise of a lucrative new beginning starts to unravel, and the couple has to face the secrets and unwelcome truths that lie beneath the surface of their marriage.
From the outside looking in, the O’Hara’s appear to have everything they could dream of. A husband and father who is making a healthy living as a trader and a wife and mother who is a successful horse riding trainer. Couple this with the fact that their two adolescent children get on fantastically well; you would think they have a perfect life. Allison certainly thinks so as they ride their wave of happiness. Yet Rory yearns to return home to England, either to misguidedly show off his success to his ex-employers or because of said success; he thinks he can hatch a plan to be even more successful.
Whatever his aspirations are, he neglects to include his family, adding them to his decision after it has already been made. That is where writer-director Sean Durkin’s film The Nest becomes very interesting to study masculine toxicity. Rory thinks he knows what he is doing; by tasting that ounce of success, he thinks he does what he wants and be damned what his family feel; they will just come along with him on his foolish journey.
You get glimpses of the tension that resides in this family; all is not as rosy as it is made out to be with Rory and Allison. With the façade of the equal status of their marriage is shown fairly early on when Rory informs her of his intentions for the family. From here, we see the family slowly fall as they all come to realise how insatiable the search for glory is with their patriarch.
Durkin wisely lets us see how Rory is early on, so when everything begins to fall apart, it becomes all the more tragic as his decisions mark a downward change in every member of his family. His quick-witted and charmed persona has everyone around him believing he can keep the façade up. The English manor is clearly beyond their budget, but telling everyone lie after lie, he can keep the truth away. That is until time, and the bills come knocking.
Editor Matthew Hannam has taken a rather old school approach to the film, and due to the 35mm look of The Nest, the film looks like something plucked from that time period. Hannam uses dissolves and slow zooms to bring some discomfort to the piece. This is a story about the destruction of a family that is at times almost a horror film, especially in this creepy isolated setting.
Jude Law is on top form as the always sketchy Rory. At no point do you ever believe a word he says; he is a chancer, a man who is so consumed in thinking he deserves the world that he doesn’t realise he already had it. So when he spirals into an utter bastard, you wish that Allison and the kids could fly straight back to New York and resume their comfortable and easy life. Worst of all, you want Rory to get a grip of himself and see the errors of his way and see sense. That is the wonder of Laws performance, you hate him, but you see he is a broken man who has refused to be assisted by those who love him.
Carrie Coon is quite simply sensational; a woman stuck between a rock and a hard place. She doesn’t want to leave her happy world but gets sucked into the dreams of her husband. However, when she finds herself up the creek without a paddle, you fear the worst, but this is a proactive woman who has clearly worried that sometimes it is better to keep some things hidden as a backup. Where Law is the more charismatic of the two performances, Coon brings the heart and emotion. She just wants a happy life, and her husband is seemingly doing everything to make that happy ending an absolute disaster. Yet, no matter the attempts from Rory, she is a woman who will not be silenced and grows the more her husband tries to hold her mentally down.
The Nest succeeds thanks to its solid performances, and while the first act is full of character building, it perhaps takes too long to get going. The rest of the film feels like a switch was turned on, allowing everything to be ramped up more and more in devastating fashion. Accentuated by some wonderful cinematography and editing, we are left with a strong if flawed film that doesn’t put as much end with an exclamation mark as an ellipses.
THE NEST is available now on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital courtesy of Picturehouse Entertainment.
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