Sunday 13 November 2022

Movie Review: The Nest (2020)

A family drama, The Nest tries to delve into strained psychological dynamics but never gains traction.

In New York of the 1980s, English investment trader Rory O'Hara (Jude Law) suddenly decides to move his family back to London, mysteriously citing drying-up financial opportunities in the United States. His American wife Allison (Carrie Coon), a horse trainer, is not too pleased. Along with their teenaged daughter Samantha (Oona Roche) and younger son Ben, they relocate to a large but old rural estate in Surrey on the outskirts of London. 

Filled with ambitious money-making ideas, Rory goes to work for the investment bank owned by his old boss Arthur Davis (Michael Culkin). He enrolls Ben in the most expensive school in the area, buys a horse for Allison, and starts building her a barn. Rory and Allison plug into London's elite social circles where he pretends to be wealthy, but Allison suspects her husband is filled with empty talk and spending well beyond their means.

Written and directed by Sean Durkin, The Nest features excellent performances by Jude Law and Carrie Coon, and a wonderfully cold, dark, and spooky setting at the oversized mansion Rory rents for the family in England. But unfortunately, what promises to be an intriguing exposé of a marriage in trouble and a family coming apart at the seams never achieves lift off. From the opening scenes it's clear trust is lacking and a schism is developing between Rory and Allison, and 107 minutes later, they are still in the same emotional space, now just a bit more visibly dug in.

Along the way, a sub-story related to Allison's horse occupies plenty of screen time and appears to be trying to say something metaphorically important, but then just dies in place. The children muddle through mundane and familiar challenges. Daughter Allison drifts away from her mom and falls in with a party crowd, son Ben is on the receiving end of off-screen bullying and experiences bed-wetting. Both their trajectories are segmented and incomplete. The 1980s setting offers intriguing opportunities but is ultimately largely irrelevant.

Durkin provides Rory a couple of speeches to rage about a difficult upbringing translating to an imagined sense of entitlement that the world owes him wealth. Similarly The Nest imagines a perceptive drama, but skips over the sustained hard work needed to deliver.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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