“The Nest” Is An Engrossing Slow Burn


Somehow, Sean Durkin made his breakthrough movie Martha Marcy May Marlene nearly a decade ago. Even harder to believe, sadly, is that it has taken him nine years to get a follow-up feature made. Well, at the very least, that wait is now over, as The Nest is out in release. A definite left-turn in some ways from his prior outing, it’s another acting showcase and slow burn that mixes drama and thriller elements. The psychology of his characters remains Durkin’s main concern, and that’s what makes this work so well. Well, that and a pair of terrific actors relishing the opportunity to lay into each other, of course.

The film is a drama, set in the 1980s. On the surface, entrepreneur Rory O’Hara (Jude Law) and his wife Allison O’Hara (Carrie Coon) seem to have the perfect life. They have a daughter in Samantha (Oona Roche) and a son in Ben (Charlie Shotwell), as well as comfort. Then, Rory announces that the family is moving to England so he can pursue a lucrative opportunity. No sooner do they move into an old country manor than they all begin to unravel in their own ways. Worse, the small fractures in Allison and Rory’s union begin to grow. First, it’s money issues. Then, it’s bickering. Soon, they’re all but enemies, both in and out of the home. While the family crumbles, things only show signs of getting worse. Durkin writes and directs, with supporting players including Adeel Akhtar, Tanya Allen, Michael Culkin, and more. Mátyás Erdély provides the cinematography, while Richard Reed Parry contributes the score.

Watching Carrie Coon and Jude Law bitterly spar is far more of a pleasure than you’d expect. Coon unravels in a manner more befitting a fright flick (though this decidedly isn’t horror), but the venom she eventually begins to spew at her husband is pitch-perfect. Law and his character’s charade slowly but surely is seen for what it is, and the way he lashes out, especially at his wife, is some of his most cutting work. Together, they’re absolutely on fire, whether it’s in the more tender early moments or by the end, when they’re nearly at each other’s throats. Both have rarely been better, allowing Sean Durkin’s script to sing, while the director himself fills the screen with unsettling images. It really does come together nicely, provided you get on its wavelength.

The Nest may frustrate some, despite widespread critical acclaim/raves, especially if you’re looking for more surface level activity. It isn’t horror, it isn’t a true psychological thriller, and the resolution is probably smaller than you’re looking for. At the same time, if you only focus on that, you miss out on Durkin’s talents, as well as the work Coon and Law are presenting. This is the sort of flick you just give yourself over to, allowing its particular mood to wash over you. Either it works or it doesn’t work. For me, it definitely did. At the very least, it’s impossible not to appreciate Coon and Law.

Now playing in theaters and available On Demand on November 17th, The Nest is another unique effort from a unique storyteller in Sean Durkin. If his last movie worked for you, this should too, albeit in a far different way. This one zigs where that one zags, and that’s an exciting prospect for his career, going forward. Mostly, you just need some patience and an open mind. If you present that to him, he’ll be able to take it from there…


Be sure to check out The Nest, in theaters now!

(Photos courtesy of IFC Films)

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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