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  • Nate Adams

Review: Marital distress and solid performances at center of elegant 'The Nest'

Courtesy of IFC Films


Sean Durkin, in his first feature since 2011’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” returns to the chair with “The Nest,” a sharp assessment on marital struggles and discourse with two solid lead performances from Jude Law and Carrie Coon.

Set in the ’80s, “The Nest” relays the story of a family plucked from their cushy home in the United States and transported to a gigantic London countryside mansion. The patriarch of the film, Rory (Law) has retreated to his old firm that he left years ago to build a family in the states. He thinks he’s got the experience and tactics that will turn him into a multi-millionaire in England, though, from the beginning it would appear blind optimism is guiding his choices. 

Purchasing a massive estate, the family obviously can’t afford would be the first indicator, and then allowing his work to consume him, resulting in his wife Allison (Coon) growing increasingly distant and two children developing their own share of problems.

Allison is the exact opposite of Rory, whereas he works with big wigs, wears the stylish suits, and brokers futures and investment deals, she does hard labor, running a stable on the family estate. Eventually, she becomes the bankroller of the family when Rory runs out of money because he can’t stop purchasing material items to raise his social status. Even the titular nest becomes an omen as the family can’t escape their troubles and frustrations, they must bake in it, let it stew until the rails fly off.

The acting here is quite remarkable, giving Law and Coon meaty characters with their own baggage to confess too. Both have gone to great lengths to pull depth and add clarity to their characters, and Durkin’s script gives them plenty to chew on. As a theater nerd myself, it’s easy to see the comparisons in the presentation, with Law and Coon often in a soft lit dining room, arguing over their struggles, suggesting an inspiration or two from “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?”

“The Nest” won’t be everyone’s cup of tea as Durkin likes to maintain distance and the abrupt, ambiguous, ending is the stuff all movies that garner F Cinemascores are made of. Solid cinematography and a polished, elegant, production design cap off the technical aspects with the visual cues saying more than dialogue and a derived narrative ever could. The direction seems to be in Durkin’s wheelhouse when it comes to crafting tension from everyday issues (financials, schooling etc.) and having Law and Coon at the center proves the perfect marriage of actor and filmmaker.

Grade: B

THE NEST opens in limited theatrical release September 18th and will be available on VOD November 17th 

COVID-19: Here at, we’re committed to covering theatrical releases, but there’s still inherent risks in regards to going inside movie theaters. Please make sure you look up your local theaters COVID-19 guidelines and procedures before purchasing a ticket, and if you don’t feel comfortable going into a theater, please don’t. A positive review of an exclusive theatrical release is not an endorsement to put your health and safety at risk. In most cases, critics receive digital screeners or are invited to socially distanced press screenings, which defers heavily from what you might experience. 


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