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The Nest – Movie Review

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The Nest – Movie Review

Rating: B+ (Very Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Elevation Pictures

With his feature directing debut Martha Marcy May Marlene, Sean Durkin created a chilling portrait of the effect running away from a cult can have on someone. It’s been a long wait for his next film and The Nest works as a curious look at how a family copes with moving to another country. It’s a different film from Martha Marcy, showing Durkin’s versatility as a filmmaker in exploring various subjects. Thanks to strong lead performances from Carrie Coon and Jude Law, they give humanity to this married couple and how they adjust to a strange new normal.

The Nest is a movie primarily relying on mood and atmosphere. So much of the film consists of following these characters around in their daily activities. We understand the patriarch Rory’s routine at the office and his wife Allison caring for her horse. Their bond with their children is also properly established and we see their own reactions to moving to England. Durkin makes sure to give equal attention to both Rory and Allison, although Allison is definitely meant as the more sympathetic figure. Yet he’s always careful in not taking Rory too far into unlikeability. We need to believe this marriage can survive whatever issues that arise.

The film is set in the 1980s, but mostly to comment on the differences between the American and British dream and the contrast in philosophy. The film cleverly shows Rory trying to bring his methods learned in Manhattan to a new country and the emotional effect this has on him. Durkin also uses the setting of a grand mansion very well. There are scenes of characters walking around and we only hear the creaks of the floors. One doesn’t know when someone is lurking nearby, which is what it can feel like when sleeping or walking around in a new place.

Carrie Coon is able to show Allison’s complexities and the emotions she’s dealing with. A lot of the role requires her to communicate with her face and she does a splendid job of doing that. The scenes she has with Charlie Shotwell and Oona Roche as her children properly depict the different ways she treats them. Jude Law also does well in showing Rory’s hotheadedness. The argument scenes between Rory and Allison have the required rawness to them as they cope with their differing attitudes regarding their financial and living situations. Durkin knows to give his actors the space to really dig deep into their characters.

The Nest could have easily fallen into the trap of portraying its leads as despicable characters with no room for redemption. However, Sean Durkin understands there needs to be some room for the audience to understand why they feel the stress they do. Even as the marriage is crumbling, there still exists that glimmer of hope that maybe they can work things out. Coon and Law spend most of their screentime apart and that actually helps their characters even more as the film successfully jumps between their storylines and how they react to the environment they find themselves in. The Nest isn’t exactly the feel-good movie of the year, but it also doesn’t wallow in misery and that’s appreciated.

Stefan Ellison

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