Director: Sean Durkin
Written by Sean Durkin
Starring: Jude Law, Carrie Coon, Charlie Shotwell, Oona Roche and Adeel Akhtar
Writer and director Sean Durkin returns for his second film, The Nest, a thriller/drama set in the 1980s following Rory O’Hara (Jude Law, Enemy at the Gates), a trader who moves his family to England to potentially strike it big with a deal that could merge his old company with an American one. His wife, Allison O’Hara (Carrie Coon, Fargo, The Post), isn’t keen on the idea, but follows her husband anyway. They move into a lavish gothic mansion, and everything is looking great until the money starts to run dry, and the big deal falls through.
From the plot, this sounds like it could be a horror film – family moving into an old mansion. If you’ve seen the trailers, you would be forgiven for thinking it’s a horror film. It’s not, despite a fair few of the scenes being shot in the way a horror film would be. Including a door being locked and then opening again when the camera swings back round. There are many moments in the film that rely on the tropes of horror to build suspense. With an unsettling tone and camera movements. You’ll be waiting for a ghost or intruder to attack at any moment.
At other points, this is a full-blown relationship drama. Allison and the children didn’t want to move to England and with Rory becoming less present by the day, the resentment and strains start to show. If this film was more about Allison and less about Rory, then it would be more enjoyable. The best moments are when Carrie Coon is on screen. Her performance is great and really brings life to Allison with a nuanced performance. Despite her strong performance, there are still moments that feel out of place. She screams ‘I don’t recognise you anymore’ to her children when trying to figure out why the door was open, she takes control at the restaurant recklessly spending money moments after revealing to her husband that she knows there isn’t enough of it. It feels like we don’t know the character well enough for these moments to really make sense. There’s also a moment towards the end that feels odd and out of place.
Jude Law, on the other hand, gives a real mixed performance. There are scenes where he just isn’t believable or natural in any way, while at other points, his character feels real. The problem is with the writing, he literally tells us his motivation throughout, his character is a walking cliché and paper thin. He had a bad childhood and deserves a better life, which is what he screams at his wife when she questions him. The film would be better if he wasn’t the main focus.
The Nest is a really slow paced film, trying to build tension with long shots that hang for uncomfortable amount of time. At points this works, at others it doesn’t. Overall the film drags and meanders to it’s very unfulfilling conclusion. When the film faded to black, with the unnecessary pause before the credits role, there was someone in the screening who said ‘how much longer is this film’ while someone else said ‘is that it?’. Somewhere here is a really good family drama, but it’s trying to hard to be unsettling and full of tension for that to really pay-off in any meaningful way.