Review: The Nest (Sundance 2020)

Title: The Nest
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Sean Durkin
Starring: Jude Law, Carrie Coon, Charlie Shotwell
Runtime: 1 hr 47mins

What It Is: In the 80s, a nuclear family is moved out to the English countryside by the father, Rory (Law). The mother, Allison (Coon), finds her and her children’s’ lives gradually falling apart as their relationships and businesses deteriorate.

What We Think: It’s that time again–that time of “showcasing the vanity and emptiness to be found in the pressure of being an upper-middle-class thing.” Which isn’t a bad thing, we’ve gotten some good movies out of well-off yet dysfunctional people having a midlife crisis, such as American Beauty, Little Children, Revolutionary Road, (and quite a few more)... This in The Nest’s instance is recognizable within its very first onscreen moments: the cool, ominous main theme purrs over a stagnant shot of a house. It’s a very serious, reeling tone to begin with and throughout you’re just waiting for something really dramatic to happen, like it was advertised to you. There were certain things about the well-intentioned cinematography and score that implies a very dark film–namely, the slow push-ins on a door or someone’s expression, or someone’s bedroom. It almost felt as if it was hyping itself up for a sort of horror, something hidden about to be revealed: apparently that horror is that one where Jude Law with a bounteous energy tries to be a salesman and takes care of his family and it doesn’t really go according to plan because he’s actually kind of flaky… Anyone else? Oh, I guess it’s just me. Reoccurring nightmares, y’know…

My point being, where’s the real drama? It’s almost sort of lost on me. Usually I’m one to point out the emptiness of melodramas, but this almost feels the opposite. There wasn’t enough for me to care: I wanted to care–the cast was there, offering large and larger bits of brilliance, constantly trying, but the story offers up little by the end. I guess that could be a point to the film’s effect, that the audience is left with little much like how our characters feel lost in their displacement, but we’ve seen films that have offered this and more before (see: the movies I previously mentioned). It’s a drama that I ended up not really caring to see or needing to see, nor would I want to think of or see it again. I feel namely nothing of it. Albeit, the technical elements are good… everything is “fine,” but the longer the film goes on, the more of the story elements become predictable and dry… I quickly found the vigor of the characters (many of whom became contrived in that they suddenly acted different because plot reasons) and the idea that the story will offer something attention-grabbing and perhaps riveting becoming faded… I simply began to lose interest. I got bored.

Our Grade: D+, Slow and monotonous and slow, this polished-looking drama has not much to offer past being polished and attempting to delve into the psychology of the family members’ roles in a situation where the whole traditional “relying on masculinity to carry us through” thing doesn’t happen to work out. In short, this film was just beating a long-dead horse when it came to exploring a damaged family relationship and marriage.

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Chai Simone Written by: