“Martha Marcy May Marlene” was just the beginning. With his outstandingly photographed psychogram of a crumbling marriage, director and author Sean Durkin proves that he is no flash in the pan. THE NEST – HAVING EVERYTHING IS NEVER ENOUGH is undoubtedly one of the early film highlights of 2021. We will reveal more about this in our review.
OT: The Nest (UK/CAN 2020)
England, 1986: After Rory (Jude Law), ambitious entrepreneur and former raw materials broker, convinces his wife Allison (Carrie Coon) and their children to leave the comfort zone of an American suburb to make a new start in his old home, he rents He has a completely remote, centuries-old country estate with extensive grounds for Allison’s beloved horses. Rory and Allison finally seem to have everything they always wanted. But everything is not enough for Rory. His greed increasingly becomes his downfall and gradually grows into a greater and greater threat to his marriage and family.
As a filmmaker, you have two options after a successful debut to make a name for yourself in the industry: Either you orient yourself towards your first work in terms of content and tone and thus quickly develop a certain recognition value. Or you can take completely new approaches so that you don’t get pigeonholed too quickly. Genre filmmakers in particular are often drawn towards the mainstream at some point – not Sean Durkin, who, after his harrowing psychological thriller “Martha Marcy May Marlene” about a cult dropout, is now daring to explore psychological depths again. This time, however, the focus is not on a young girl searching for identity, but on a family on the verge of a nervous breakdown. However, the oppressive mood conjured up, which always results from small, subtle observations and never from grand gestures or detailed dialogues, remains the same. “The Nest – Having everything is never enough” is the precisely formulated deconstruction of what is supposedly intact – family, job, emotions; In “The Nest” everything is exposed to its shaky substance sooner or later. And even though it’s pretty devastating at times, Sean Durkin still manages to make an extremely entertaining film.
Rory (Jude Law) and Allison (Carrie Coon) seem to have reached the goal of their dreams by renting an English country estate.
In one of the first scenes we see the main character Rory in close-up on the phone. Jude Law’s lips are curved into a professional grin, his voice almost cracking with friendliness as he greets a business partner on the other end. After the conversation, he is satisfied because a new professional perspective has just opened up for him, which he has to tell his beloved wife Allison immediately – but not before lovingly bringing her coffee in bed and playing football with his son play. These first minutes shape “The Nest” on its further path: Jude Law (“Spy – Susan Cooper Undercover”) plays Rory, who is completely absorbed in his job as an entrepreneur, with infectious passion: his politeness towards his colleagues may be well-rehearsed; Especially in the close-ups you can see the difference between a genuinely happy Rory and a professionally friendly one. But his passion for his job is so intoxicating that you start to fall for the young man just as much as he does for himself. Small observations, such as the fact that the coffee that was brought to his wife’s bedside every morning suddenly doesn’t come, help the idyll to take shape Cracks, everything seems to be fine with the O’Haras per se. It would have been easy to turn this, at first glance, nouveau riche yuppie into a one-dimensional asshole, or to have him become one over the course of the 100 minutes. But Rory’s character change is much more gradual, but that doesn’t make it any less appealing.
“Rory’s politeness to colleagues may be rehearsed; Especially in the close-ups you can see the difference between a genuinely happy Rory and a professionally friendly one. But his passion for his job is so intoxicating that you fall for the young man just as much as he does for himself.”
The more Rory gives in to his professional ambition and soon falls into a (never malicious, but infinitely naive) mania, the more the downside of his gestures, which at first glance seemed so nice, come into focus. The expensive country estate on the outskirts of the city is suddenly no longer the fulfillment of the long-held dream of owning your own property, but a consciously chosen status symbol that no longer just seems inviting over time, but takes on increasingly sinister features. Just like the expensive fur coat given to his wife, who comes from a poor background, or the construction of his own stable building for the horse he also gave him as a gift. The fact that Sean Durkin may have chosen the late 1980s as the setting to tell “The Nest”, a highly politically explosive film about British economic change, which, if taken to its logical conclusion, would in a certain way pass as a “Brexit-explanatory film” helps his success Film on a further, political level, on which Jude Law embodies a man who is far ahead of his time and therefore in the wrong place at the wrong time. Just a few years later, events would probably have turned out very differently for him. But Rory succumbs to the scent of money that clouds his senses until the absence of it brings him back down to earth.
Rory’s wife Allison at a reception.
But one would be doing “The Nest” an injustice if one were to reduce the film solely to Rory’s development. His actions may be the driving force behind events, but parallel to his rapid rise and fall story, Sean Durkin tells Carrie Coon’s (suffering) story (“Gone Girl”) Outstandingly intense personified Ms. Allison, who initially passes the time with the task of training her new horse, but gradually drowns more and more in her loneliness and loses sight of the interests of her children. Durkin does not tell the typical story of a wife left behind as a cricket by her husband, but rather a drama that stands on its own two feet, which, like “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” has a lot to do with finding identity. Only through her absence does Allison, who is never at a loss for a tough line or a self-confident counterattack, recognize her own needs and learn to stand up for them and herself. To demonstrate this, Durkin uses few words, instead letting the images speak for themselves. In extremely long camera shots (Mátyás Erdély, “Son of Saul”) the audience has the opportunity to lose themselves in the facial expressions of the actors and notice even the smallest changes in response to what they hear or see. Rory and Allison are constantly rumbling, but only once does it result in a real argument, which, however, doesn’t add much to the already familiar situation. Instead, what is particularly convincing about “The Nest” is its subtle observations. Especially with regard to the children, Sean Durkin succeeds in making strong (under)statements about the actual state of the family. Unlike “Marriage Story” or related films, “The Nest” is not one that forces the final breakup of the family, but rather always holds out the prospect of mending the deep cracks that gradually threaten to destroy the idyll can.
“In extremely long camera shots, the audience has the opportunity to lose themselves in the facial expressions of the actors and notice even the smallest changes in response to what they hear or see.”
With his precise tracking shots, tidy images and high-contrast colors, Mátyás Erdély creates a captivating visual language that, despite its drama basis, dresses “The Nest” in a diffusely exciting thriller guise. Richard Reed Parry’s minimalist score, which mostly features short, dissonant, but all the more memorable piano note sequences, does the rest to make the film unpredictable at all times. At the latest one evening, when Allison stumbles across an open door that she had only closed a few seconds before, it wouldn’t be surprising if “The Nest” suddenly mutates into a haunted house horror festival. The winding villa with its countless corridors, secret doors and hidden recesses would be the perfect backdrop for a horror film. But even if Sean Durkin uses a sensational death and its consequences to symbolically underpin his story in the second half, his film remains a bitter drama to the end that brutally explores the exceptional mental states of its protagonists. Depending on who you ask, this is also a form of horror.
Conclusion: In “The Nest – Having Everything Is Never Enough,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene” director Sean Durkin dissects a supposedly perfect family, which is captivating and intense thanks to the outstanding imagery, the strong ensemble and the feeling for interpersonal details.
“The Nest – Having Everything is Never Enough” can be seen in USA cinemas from July 8, 2021.