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The Nest


★★★★½ - STUFF 

- Jude Law shines in this bleak, blackly funny thriller - 

The year must be 1986. Reagan is in the White House, but the sharemarket crash of 1987 is not too far away.

In New York City, star trader and financial wonder-kid Rory is bored with his apparent success. He is seeking a new challenge in greener fields. So when his old boss in London phones to offer Rory a chance to head up his own company, he jumps at it, taking wife Allison, son Ben and Allison's daughter Samantha along for the adventure.

Or at least, that's how Rory tells the story, at various dinner parties and cocktail bashes with the new neighbours, deep in some well-monied corner of the British countryside only a short commute away from “The City”.

The truth is, Rory is broke and desperate. Allison has been seeing through the facade for years, but Rory's charm and the always glimmering chance the next deal will be the one that makes everything right have kept her hanging on. 

But with winter closing in on their rented, dilapidated mansion, the horse stables she was promised unbuilt, the children miserable and Rory spinning ever further into delusion and lies, Allison is finally about say what she really thinks about spending her life spent propping up the narcissism of this man who had promised so much and then delivered so little.

The Nest is very nearly a horror film. There's no gore and not much in the way of scares here, but the way in which the creaking doors and leaking walls of the close in on the family with every passing scene is straight out of Horror 101.

As Rory flails and lies his way towards destruction, the house takes on a palpable malignancy, literally expelling its dead and refusing to give rest or comfort to the living.

Sean Durkin's second feature (his debut was the potent Martha Marcy May Marlene) is a tightly coiled spring. The tension between Allison, Rory and their neighbours is only restrained by the stultifying politeness of the English upper-classes and the newly arrived who pathetically try to emulate them.

This is a tough little portrait of a toxic personality whose comeuppance we know is thoroughly deserved, even as we still hope, just maybe, Rory might pull off that one last deal that will restore his and Allison’s world to balance and order. At least, until the next time.

Jude Law does superb work here, placing Rory with every gesture in that shaded, liminal space between pitiable and monstrous. Beside Law, Carrie Coon (Widows) plays Allison as a woman right at the ragged end of her wits, finally seeing her husband for the deluded, desperate idiot he truly is and no longer prepared to keep quiet about it.

The Nest is a bleak, blackly funny and bluntly theatrical film. There are enough layers and ideas here to spark any number of discussions on the way home. And probably enough to make a second viewing worthwhile. Recommended. 

Graeme Tuckett, STUFF 

The Nest is now playing at Light House Cinema! 

(R13 - Drug use, sex scenes and offensive language) 


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