Director: Sean Durkin
Starring: Jude Law, Carrie Coon, Charlie Shotwell, Oona Roche
Run Time: 107 mins
The Nest is director Sean Durkin’s second film, whose delicate and poignant debut thriller Martha Marcy May Marlene featured Elizabeth Olsen in her breakout role – it’s well worth checking out. This sophomore effort is centred around a family of four in the mid-1980s America. Englishman Rory O’Hara (Jude Law) and his wife Allison (Carrie Coon) are a middle-class family living in New York City. They have a son, Ben (Charlie Shotwell), and Sam (Oona Roche) also lives with them, who is Allison’s daughter from a previous relationship.
Allison teaches horse riding and Rory is a trader. Rory has grown bored and believes his chances of career success have stagnated in the US. Early on in the film, it is alluded that the family have moved many times due to Rory’s work. Rory convinces Allison to emigrate to London where he can work at his old employer, Arthur Davis’ (Michael Culkin) firm. Rory rents a mansion in Surrey with ‘the option to buy’, enrols Ben in a costly private school, Sam in a state school and buys Allison a new horse called Richmond. All initially seems well, although everyone other than Rory feels that the mansion is unnecessary for their needs and they feel coldly detached from it. When Rory is unable to pay for some building work that is being carried out, problems start to ensue and The Nest very much represents the unravelling of a family.
The Nest is a riveting character study and features powerhouse performances from Jude Law and Carrie Coon. Durkin excels in creating an eery atmosphere of constant unease with a hint of supernatural horror, bolstered by Son of Saul’s Mátyás Erdély’s frenetic yet dreamy cinematography.
Rory is a particularly interesting character, who has worked his way up and sees himself as above everyone, creating and living a fantasy which he cannot afford. A prickly scene with his mother (Anne Reid) makes it not hard to see where he might have inherited this mindset from. This is in contrast to Allison, who has more simplistic aspirations but also lives grounded in reality and takes on the brunt of raising her children. She is not afraid to call Rory out when he makes reckless decisions and is the nearest character to representing the voice of reason.
This all makes for an inevitable, and perhaps cyclical conclusion, the empty and hollow mansion is representative of the decay the family experiences. The Nest has received next-to-no marketing and has quickly headed to streaming services after a short theatrical release. Therefore, there is no excuse not to watch this film, which if you absorb yourself into the characters and setting, you will be rewarded with an atmospheric and intelligent character study.