Movie Review: The Nest

Thanks to a bunch of dancing grannies (which is a Chinese euphemism for something less innocent than just doing the cha cha), we’re now in our fourth wave of covid infections here in Hong Kong. Because of that, our cinemas have closed again. Everyone here is hoping the closure will be short-lived as WONDER WOMAN 1984 is (was?) scheduled to open on the 17th – one week before the rest of the world gets to see it. If cinemas are still open where you live, you may have the film, THE NEST, playing there. Many critics are calling it one of the best films of the year.

It’s the Reagan-Thatcher Era and Rory O’Hara (Jude Law, the FANTASTIC BEASTS franchise; A RAINY DAY IN NEW YORK; KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD; SPY) seems to have it all. The commodities trader is living a picture-perfect life with his wife, Allison (Carrie Coon, WIDOWS; AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR; TV’s FARGO), her daughter Sam (Oona Roche) and their son Benjamin (Charlie Shotwell, ELI; THE GLASS CASTLE; CAPTAIN FANTASTIC) in leafy Connecticut. Their domestic bliss is upended when Rory decides to take a job in London working for his former boss, Arthur Davis (Michael Culkin, TV’s THE CROWN; THE GOOD LIAR; MR. HOLMES). Allison doesn’t really want to go as she has a nice life training young equestrians on a nearby farm, but after Rory tells her that he will make it all work, she agrees. Rory decides to rent a rambling Neo-Gothic estate in Surrey and he arranges to ship Allison’s beloved horse to their new home. Before long, cracks begin to appear in their marriage as Allison realises that Rory is spending money faster than he’s making it. The kids, meanwhile, can’t seem to find their footings at school or at home.

This sophomore effort by writer-director Sean Durkin, whose last film, MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE, won the Dramatic Directing Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, is curiously being billed as a drama/romance. I don’t understand that at all. THE NEST plays out more like a drama/horror, except that there’s no horror. Between the old house with its dimly lit corridors and secret passageway, and Rory’s unravelling, the film has all the makings of a horror in the vein of THE SHINING but, unfortunately, it never goes there. Instead, the film is frustratingly slow where nothing happens for the first 70 minutes – and it’s a 107-minute film. To its credit though, the performances are solid all around with Coon’s being the best of them all. The actress will be starring in the new GHOSTBUSTERS film, which is expected out next summer. The camerawork by SON OF SAUL cinematographer Mátyás Erdély is also excellent.

The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of this year and it closed the Deauville Festival in September where it won the Jury Prize and Best Film. THE NEST has started to roll out to cinemas around the world and it is supposed to come to our cinemas in Hong Kong at some point. I’m not aware if it’s on any streaming service yet but, if not, keep your eyes out for it. It didn’t quite work for me but you might like it.

Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Friday, December 4th, 8:30 am HK time!

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