It’s not quite as dark as American Beauty, but Sean Durkin’s The Nest is the story about the delectable demise of a British/ American family. No Hollywood theatrics here, just a good piece of painfully, grounded storytelling. The family in question are husband and wife, Rory (Jude Law) and Allison (Carrie Coon), Allison’s daughter Samantha (Oona Roche), and their son Benjamin (Charlie Shotwell).
Rory is a New York entrepreneur and former commodities trader, who decides to pick up the entire clan and move back home to England to a giant mansion and a better, more comfortable life… for Rory. Their home is idyllic, featuring extensive grounds for Allison’s equestrian hobby and the best private schools for the kids.
Like all good dramas, the happier the family is initially, the greater the crash at the end. Rory returns to his old brokerage firm and immediately employs “American” business tactics to score that one big deal that will set him up for life… until it doesn’t happen. Allison’s having problems with the stable and her horse, and the kids are not adjusting well at all. Worse, the optimist Rory is already spending the big bonus, he’s yet to score. When he realizes things are not going his way, Rory panics.
“…decides to pick up the entire clan and move back home to England to a giant mansion and a better, more comfortable life…for Rory.”
The story about a man with big dreams is not a new one, but what sets The Nest above the pack is the story and exceptional performances from Jude Law and Carrie Coon. The plot is layered and nuanced. It plays around with the British expatriate living abroad and his yearnings to go home. Rory is a man with something to prove, and going to America was his chance to show “everyone” that he would never be underestimated. His return home was his chance to return as the triumphant hero.
While Rory’s Willie Loman story is familiar, Jude Law is at his best as the misguided yet narcissistic father. However, it’s Carrie Coon’s performance you’ll appreciate even more. As Allison, she is not-so-easily fooled as she takes the necessary steps to protect herself and her children. She’s a loving and devoted wife, but an independent woman in every sense of the word. The Nest is a car crash that you’ll want to slow down and watch, to take in every sad detail.
The Nest is one of my favorite dramas for 2020. Sean Durkin deserves a great deal of respect and praise for his sophomore outing. It’s brilliant and very dark. The story may be a little too grounded for award consideration. But with so few films coming to the big screen this year, The Nest has a chance to shine.
The Nest screened at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
"…...it’s brilliant and very dark."