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With: Jude Law, Carrie Coon, Oona Roche, Charlie Shotwell
Written by: Sean Durkin
Directed by: Sean Durkin
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, some sexuality, nudity and teen partying
Running Time: 107
Date: 09/18/2020

The Nest (2020)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Mental Wealth

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A shallow story about shallowness, Sean Durkin's The Nest nonetheless becomes fairly gripping thanks to its director's immense skill for composition and performance, as well as dashes of patience and sensitivity.

In The Nest, it's the 1980s and entrepreneur/stock trader Rory (Jude Law) suddenly announces to his wife Allison (Carrie Coon), who teaches horseback riding, that they should pack up their two children, leave their New York home, and move to London, where Rory grew up. He thinks that opportunity there is ripe for the taking. He sets them up in an enormous old mansion and goes back to his old job, trying to convince his boss (Michael Culkin) to sell the firm for huge profits.

Meanwhile, Allison's horse arrives from the U.S., but he is sick and soon must be put down. Teen daughter Samantha (Oona Roche) begins falling in with a gang of hoodlums and begins partying, drinking, and smoking, while younger Benjamin (Charlie Shotwell) begins getting into trouble at school. Things really start to unravel as bills go unpaid, and nerves are frayed.

The follow-up to director Durkin's powerful, highly-acclaimed feature debut Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011), The Nest may resemble movies about unchecked greed and the obsessive search for status (Wall Street, The Wolf of Wall Street, etc.), but it doesn't include the flashy, intoxicating excitement of those movies. Rather it exposes the behavior for what it is, destructive and ruinous. Law gives a great performance, and in one of the best scenes, he sums up his obsession with the line, "I had a million dollars once..."

Coon's Allison eventually becomes the movie's heart, her cool facade crumbling, and reflecting the fate of her poor horse. That's another fantastic performance, equalled by the two children. Durkin frames all of them in the enormous house, using cavernous spaces, secret doors, unknown corners, and dizzying high spaces, to illustrate their heartbreaking disconnect.

Ultimately, The Nest may cause a "that's it?" reaction in many viewers, but Durkin's unhurried, poetic examination of the characters' sadnesses and heartbreaks gracefully overcomes any general lack of plot.

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