The unease and dread in the drama “The Nest” reads much like a horror movie, to the point where I kept expecting a slasher to jump out from behind a door at any moment. This isn’t a scary movie in the traditional sense, but writer / director Sean Durkin paints a deeply unsettling portrait of the corrosion of a suburban American family who move to England during the 1980s.
Entrepreneur husband and father Rory (Jude Law) senses a business opportunity across the pond and persuades his reluctant wife Allison (Carrie Coon) and their two children to leave their home and relocate for the forth time in ten years. Once in England, Rory rents a lavish old manor and builds a horse stable for his wife. They attend fancy dinner parties where Allison watches in near-disgust as Rory brags about all the things they own although he’s blown through almost all of their money. Eventually the family’s unaffordable lifestyle and abrasive bragging comes back to bite them, and everyone begins to self-destruct.
Not a lot happens in the film action-wise, and it’s a very slow burn. The plot is very simple, but Durkin has woven enough drama and mystery to keep viewers engaged in the story. The family seems almost cookie-cutter perfect at first, but Rory’s penchant for pretending he is rich and inflating his status to others as a measure of his self-worth begins to rot their family unit from within. He feels so inadequate that he must put on airs and live well beyond his means. Rory has collected things that he believes are the perfect status symbols of a successful life: a blonde American trophy wife, a too-big home, a horse, and private schools for the kids. He’s constantly yammering lie after lie after lie to his business associates and investors in a desperate attempt to impress them. Most see through his charade, which isn’t good news for his job.
I’m normally not fond of characters like Rory, who has a personality that you’re not supposed to like, but I couldn’t help but feel for him. There’s something so dismal about a man who is so lost that he doesn’t even know what he wants in life, even though he’s given up so much to chase his supposed dream.
“The Nest” speaks to the capitalist nature that the world creates and critiques the people that fall into a trap that they can’t escape. Rory cannot help himself. His financial ruin hangs in the balance of a life that’s not attainable for many, and the man is willing to risk his family for the shot to have it all. None of these characters are villains, but their aspirations feel so empty.