The Nest (2020) review
Jude Law delivers a career-best performance in Sean Durkin’s toxic drama about a wealthy family slowly disintegrating in the English countryside.
Though it gets off to a slow start, at first feeling like an almost aimless depiction of opulent suburban life for the elite, The Nest is one of the most intoxicating and enthralling films of the year.
Jude Law stars as Rory O’Hara, a ruthlessly ambitious Reagan-era stockbroker who moves his American wife, Alison (Carrie Coon), and the children from their comfortable suburban home in New York to a stately manor in the English countryside. His options stateside have dried up, and he yearns for the cut-throat environment of his former job with big wig Arthur Davis (Michael Culkin).
There Rory has promise. He brings in contractors to build stables on the grounds for Alison’s equine business, and pushes for a merger of Arthur’s business with a Chicago brokerage in the hopes of making a killing overnight.
This is a compelling and uniquely fascinating film
But passion soon turns to hate and despair. Clients pull out, animals get sick, and the money begins to dry up. The veneer crumbles, and Rory’s irresistible charm gives way to an acid-tongued, insecure and hateful man. He’s running on fumes and once again out of options.
The premise sounds like it would be best suited to the breakneck sensibilities of the Safdie Brothers, but Durkin’s slow, measured direction teases out the family’s sinister underbelly of malaise and dissatisfaction and you watch the perhaps inevitable disintegration of what should be a perfect family. Alison and Rory seem to work to actively undo each other, with both Coon and Law delivering seismic performances.
The Nest is handsomely shot by Hungarian cinematographer Mátyás Erdély, and the drama and misery are perfectly underpinned by Richard Reed Parry’s droning score. It’s not a fun watch, but it’s a compelling and uniquely fascinating film - and one of the year’s best.