Problems always start at home…
The Nest is quite simply the kind of simmering and insidious drama that global cinema needs right now and it makes a real statement against the constant striving for more in our modern society.
Rory (Jude Law), an ambitious entrepreneur and former commodities broker, persuades his American wife, Allison (Carrie Coon), and their children to leave the comforts of suburban America and return to his native England during the 1980s. Sensing opportunity, Rory rejoins his former firm and leases a centuries-old country manor, with grounds for Allison’s horses and plans to build a stable. Soon the promise of a lucrative new beginning starts to unravel; the couple have to face the unwelcome truths lying beneath the surface of their marriage.
There’s a cold efficiency and beautiful starkness to The Nest that makes it one of the most compelling films of the year as we bear witness to an immaculate master class in acting to see two great ones duel it out on screen.
Writer/Director Sean Durkin has given us something very grounded in a real tone as we track this family who is doing quite well for themselves get undone through the most nefarious means possible; via pure unadulterated neglect.
The film consciously creates such distance as you are watching these characters that you can’t help but get roped into such an overwhelming sense of sadness as we watch these empty aspirations come at the cost of the family unit. Durkin deftly allows moments to genuinely breathe and isn’t trying to rush anything as the pain and discord between this family slowly unfurls with events on screen. He uses some stark imagery to highlight the vacuous nature of excess and he expertly recreates the go-go 1980’s without drowning us as an audience in nostalgia. He allows it all to play with a very natural feel while still having real control and precision on what we see on screen and why. There isn’t a wasted movement on screen and it all builds with such immaculate purpose through the performances of the two leads that you just can’t look away.
Jude Law is getting so damn good at playing smarmy assholes that I can only hope it isn’t second nature for him. His Rory is a blindly driven man who is obsessed with proving himself “better” than everyone else that he doesn’t see the human carnage that his quest for “more” leaves at the feet of his family. He is a result of emotional neglect in his younger life and his drive to put that all behind him leads him to repeating what was done to him. Jude really channels this man with aplomb as we slowly don’t like and even loathe him until we pity him and it’s an emotional roller coaster that you can’t look away from.
That being said as good as Jude Law is here, Carrie Coon is just that much better as she carries the emotional crux of the film from top to bottom. As Allison we see a woman out of time who is pulled against the societal norms of having to “trust” your husband and the he knows best and knowing that she has to take care of her and her own. We see her descend into a place of simply not giving a fuck and knowing that her family is spiraling in a house and environment that she’s lost control of with Rory always looking for that next big score that he thinks is to take care of his family but is really about feeding his own inadequacies and ego.
The Nest is a brilliant piece of cinema that comments on not only the empty need for “more” and how it never gives us the emotional value we all crave but also in the emotional baggage that those pursuits can leave in their wake. It also marks the genuine arrival of Carrie Coon as an actor to be reckoned with no matter what project she decides to sink her teeth into.