REEL Review – The Nest (2020)

Director: Sean Durkin | 1h 47mins | Drama

English Trader, Rory (Jude Law) and his Wife, Alison (Carrie Coon), live a cushy life in upstate New York. Their marriage and domestic bliss are challenged when they move to a country manor in London.

Sean Durkin’s second feature is a slow-burner, one that is less about actions or words and more about the methodical thought-processes of each of it’s characters and how they begin to breakdown internally. It’s a tone that suits the muted camera and meditative style in which Durkin is telling us the tragic story, a story in which a family begins to unravel and disconnect in the face of such drastic change.

The opening of the film sees the family their most traditional and happiest, living in upstate New York in a lovely home, intertwined in each others responsibilities and all the more happier for it. Durkin makes it very clear this is routine, it may be blissful but it’s a product of the continuous cycle they’ve built around each other, making it all the more uncharacteristic when they’re thrust into a life of pretend and unknown among the wealth of London.

This is down to Rory’s own desires, and Durkin is keen to show us that this is anything but glamorous. The house is shot in a bleak horror-like fashion – helped by an unhinged score that drifts from gorgeously melodic to a thumping bass that shakes you to your core – The Director obviously wants us to the feel the cold and unwelcoming presence of it, and he does so through continuous build and eye for detail.

It very often gets caught up in its lingering camera, exhausting a scene out of any gravitas it may have started with. But, when it wants to The Nest finds such power in the simplest of shots;

The film challenges not only personal conflict but the marriage of Rory and Alison also, and it’s a testament to both Jude Law and Carrie Coon that they are able to have such chemistry while holding onto the incompatibility that drives the films conflict between the couple. While Carrie Coon is a treasure in almost every role she’s in, it’s Law that surprises the most with such a genuine performance. Playing on the charisma and charm that made him Hollywood’s go-to ‘English Gentleman’, he adds such bitterness and intimidation to a character that pathetically believes he’s ‘earned’ the right to be rich. Often he cowers like an ungrateful child, blaming everyone and everything except for himself, and Law’s two-sided performance captures this effortlessly.

Despite the top tier performances however, this isn’t a movie without shortcomings. It very often gets caught up in its lingering camera, exhausting a scene out of any gravitas it may have started with. But, when it wants to The Nest finds such power in the simplest of shots; Alison desperately digging up her dead horse as a last ditch grasp at a happiness she no longer has, or Rory reluctantly walking up his driveway unable to face his failure. They are scenes with such subtle power, and it’s such a shame that the film doesn’t quite keep that level of consistency throughout.

There’s a point in the film where all our family members feel as if they’re at their lowest; daughter Sam’s rebellious streak comes to quiet regret and reflection during a Speed-filled party; Frail son Benjamin shrivels in a corner fearing the intruders drinking in his home; Alison bombs down a country road intoxicated and Rory trundles along the pebbly roads of the English countryside, lost on his way back to his dream house. What each of them are doing is reflecting on a culmination of twisted feelings they can’t escape – but more importantly it’s a bitter reminder of the lost domestic bliss they once had.

Once the quiet ending had finished, I found myself lingering on every part, every action and meaning the film had to offer. It crackles in the back of your mind until it’s all you can think about, and for that it rightly earns it’s title of ‘slow-burner’. A movie unafraid of not dazzling you straight away, The Nest would rather let it’s qualities creep up on you gradually.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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