A chance for a better life spins out of control in this well-acted drama.
Jude Law plays entrepreneur Rory O’Hara, who longs for a good opportunity for his American family-his wife Allison (Carrie Coon), his step-daughter Samantha (Oona Roche), and their son Ben (Charlie Shotwell). Just as they’re finally settling down, he gets a call for a new position at his old firm in London. Their new abode is an English country manor, which is supposed to be their dream home, and the life Rory dreamed of, but it all takes a downward spiral.
That’s the set-up for “The Nest,” writer/director Sean Durkin’s first film since “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” and you can easily tell that when a family goes an old mansion, things are bound for trouble. In this case, Law doesn’t write “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” on the walls, instead he has trouble returning to the home country he basically ran away from, and his wife has just a conflict just as strong as he does.
They have expenses like some work done on the house, Ben’s school, and Allison’s horse, which she trains and had a farmer put him down, and the wife nags to her husband about when his paycheck will come. He’s having a problem with his current deal, which is why they’re dealing with their financial problems. And it’s not just that, but also Ben is bullied at school and worries about his parents’ behaviors, while Allison is on a full rebellion stage, and blames her mother for ruining their once-happy life by marrying Rory.
Coon delivers the best performance of her career as the wife, who feels like her family is deteriorating ever since her family moved. In the middle of the movie, she has an argument with her husband about how she had to bury the horse, which he spent $5,000 on. And it’s not just the deceased horse, it’s how he handles his job, and his family. The reason I loved her in this is because she provides the dialogue and vulnerability to express her emotions.
Law is also uniformly excellent in the ways he struggles to grasp his reality, wants more out of life, and argues with his wife. He has a certain acting style that convinces us he’s a struggling opportunist. And the young actors Roche and Shotwell are both fantastic in how they portray regular kids in a new environment.
“The Nest” should have been longer to allow the characters to repair the turmoil in their new lives, but it is riveting in how they deal with it. Richard Reed Parry’s chilling score, Matyas Erdely’s fresh cinematography, and Durkin’s direction all describe the movie’s haunting tone. It’s not a horror movie, as it looks and feels like; it’s a family drama with issues we’re always going to be dealing with on and off camera.
Why couldn’t that dreadful “Force Majeure” remake “Downhill” be more like this film, which talks about its family problems, instead of moping around like Julia Louis-Dreyfus did and be so desperate like Will Ferrell did. Coon and Law both ignite the screen, and you’re entertained with how they’re written and played out. See it for yourselves.