By Jasper Price, Theatre, Third Year
As rich in filmmaking technique as it is beautifully bleak, Sean Durkin weaves a tale of family struggle, corporate greed and tireless ambition, all set under the guise of a horror film aesthetic.
The American dream trope is one which has saturated film for many years. There are countless pieces about people moving to the States in order to seek fame or fortune. The Nest (2020) asks “what next?”. Rory (Jude Law) is an English stockbroker who lives a seemingly idyllic life in the USA with his wife Allison (Carrie Coon) and his two kids. A once big shot trader, the charismatic Rory soon experiences financial trouble and the family relocate to Surrey, after he is offered a job at a London firm. What unfolds is a sweeping tragedy in which the family seeks to forge a dream life in England, but that dream soon falls apart.
If the film is a tragedy, then its central character’s downfall is his tendency to lie. Law portrays a stereotypical English businessman; quick witted, persuasive and charming. The very definition of the gift of the gab. At first, the audience believes his façade. Rory buys a huge, gothic mansion and puts his son into the best private school around. His party trick, as Allison later describes, is pretending that he’s rich, to entice potential investors.
As the narrative unfolds the audience starts to see the cracks in his character, and his charisma becomes an annoying intrusion. Law portrays this character with absolute class, it’s his subtle way of conveying emotion which allows the audience in on the act, and the moments where he does fall feel heartfelt and natural. He is brilliantly supported by Coon, who at first revels in her husband’s grandeur but soon starts to see through him as her mental health deteriorates.
The real genius behind the film however is its stylistic choices. This family drama is shot more like a horror film. Cinematographer Mátyás Erdély affixes our gaze in a way that creates a stunning eeriness. The camera rarely stays static, but instead slowly zooms into its subject, boxing every person or object in. There are long, uncomfortable shots of gothic windows, dark trees or foggy meadows which seem to harbour secrets. These shots, combined with Richard Reed Parry’s chilling score create the uncanny backdrop upon which the drama unfolds.
The Nest is not your average drama. Through the subtlety of both the acting and visual technique, the viewer is haunted by this family’s turmoil and the film leaves us with questions we know will never be answered.
Featured Image: IMDB
Have you flocked to see The Nest?