“I deserve this!” a line shouted in Jude Law’s latest film “The Nest” is arguably the best way I can describe what his latest is about. The synopsis on IMDB which reads “Life for an entrepreneur (Law) and his American family (played by Carrie Coon and young actors Charlie Shotwell and Oona Roche) takes a twisted turn after moving into an English country estate." While that may read like a horror film, director Sean Durkin creates a real horror about wealthy lifestyles. That may not necessarily be everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s a lot of ideas here that work. In large part, that is due to the top-notch cast.
With the film being set in the 1980s, it gives Durkin and his cast a lot of angles to play and drama to pull from. By having Law as a type of broker (which eventually ties into the 1981 recession in the UK) it gives him a large depth of shading. From playing the role of an excited and charismatic father, he balances that as someone who gets in over his head. The emotional weight he has is unparalleled, but wouldn’t be anywhere near as impactful without Coon as his actress. Normally in a film like this, the wife’s role would essentially be nothing more than a heroine like Allison to argue with a “strong and ruthless” husband. Not only is she able to make this character complex, but she becomes the person we arguably sympathize with the most. She doesn’t manipulate us into feeling for her, but we understand how she got to where she is and why she fell in love with Rory (Law).
Another big surprise to me in a film like this is the talent of the actors playing their children. In many cases, the children of characters like this would take a backseat to the lead performances. Though in reading an interview with Durkin at the Sundance film festival, he explains he was a child who was forced to move regularly from place to place. “A lot of the textural stuff came from memory. Just the look of how things feel,” Durkin described. This idea is one of my biggest takeaways in how Durkin fleshes out the characters of Benjamin (Shotwell) and Samantha (Roche). For both characters, Durkin allows the relationship of the step-siblings to feel real and not divulge into unnecessary cliches. Late in the film, a party sequence involving both children shows just how strong their relationship is. In the runtime of 1 hour and 42 minutes, all four of these characters are given a moment to explain their side of things. This shows the compassion that Durkin feels for each of his leads in this story.
I would be lying to you if I said that “The Nest” is one of the better viewing experiences that I have had so far in 2020. It’s not a film that’s necessarily steeped in plot and Durkin allows the cast to expand upon the world. While some of their problems can be considered trite or insignificant (being that they’re in the upper class), the cast here sells the plight this family is in. The closing moment of the film clearly summarizes what the strain of money can do to people. This idea at the end of the day is what I found to be the most interesting in the film. The concept of the rich abusing their power making for propulsively entertaining cinema, made it something I won’t forget. Once the film releases on VOD come November (after a brief theatrical run this month in whatever theaters are open), I highly encourage an audience to check it out. It’s got a lot to say, and I certainly haven’t forgotten a thing about it.