Film review – Le Nid (2020)
The nest, 2020.
Directed by Sean Durkin.
With Jude Law, Carrie Coon, Oona Roche, Charlie Shotwell, Adeel Akhtar, Anne Reid and Michael Culkin.
A flashy commodities trader relocates his American family to his home country of Britain where he is trying to strike a deal that will put them in place for life.
More than 30 years after Gordon Gekko’s statement in Wall Street that “greed, for lack of a better word, is good”, the cinema has lost none of its appetite to attack capitalism. In Sean Durkin’s new ’80s thriller The nest, the avatar of the horrors of financial excess is Jude Law’s swaggering commodities trader Rory O’Hara, a man addicted to living beyond his means. The film presents him as an avatar of the American dream, living in a beautiful house with his beautiful family.
But the money is exhausted. Rory confides in his wife, Allison (Carrie Coon), that they are struggling to make ends meet, but he has been offered a chance to work with his former boss (Michael Culkin) if they are willing to fight and to return to England. . Soon Rory paid a year’s rent in a cavernous Surrey mansion once used by Led Zeppelin while they were recording an album, and he’s deeply into many projects to make them rich.
Law’s performance perfectly tries out the excruciating desperation of a man who has to keep moving forward in search of the next success, like a perpetually dissatisfied shark. He slips and slides through the film on an inch-thick wave of sleaze, relishing the opportunity to pontificate about the benefits of Thatcher’s financial deregulation and toss out phrases like “pied à terre in Mayfair” as if they were comfortably seated in his mouth. It’s a formidable performance of sheer macho bravado, but overshadowed by the even more impressive work done quietly by Carrie Coon.
It would have been easy for Allison to be a passive victim in this film – someone shaken by the hail of extravagance and inconvenience from her husband. But in the hands of Durkin’s script and Coon’s performance, the character becomes someone far more interesting. There is an acid bitterness in its heart, conveyed in particular by its pithy clapbacks to the strained sexist micro-aggressions of the British upper crust. She becomes more and more isolated and lonely throughout the film and Coon is able to communicate it with a palpable heart, even though she shares most of her scenes with a horse.
Unfortunately, Durkin’s film is a rather inconsistent vessel for its top-tier performances. Initially, the signs are good, with Durkin creating an atmosphere of mystery and tension akin to the looming darkness at the heart of his first feature film. Martha Marcy May Marlene. Ultimately, however, this tension feels like a wave that never rises and leaves the film as if it lacks a thesis beyond a broad-based critique of how capitalism dehumanizes and consumes those who have ambitions of social mobility.
Indeed, the interesting threads around this theme are put aside far too easily. The film features Rory’s mother – played by incomparable veteran Anne Reid – in a glimpse into Rory’s less privileged past, but never again delves into how it shaped him as an adult. Instead, there’s a hilarious scene in which Rory is taken to task by a cab driver for his boastfulness and pumps in a grotesque sort of “common man” caricature. Maybe Durkin saw the Churchill on a train scene at Darkest hour and decided he wanted some of this nonsense.
It’s a shame The nest simply runs out because it contains many ingredients for a sharp and sharp drama. Law and Coon each have been doing their best jobs in years, and there is an exciting atmosphere around the opening hour of the film. But Durkin resists the conventional narrative structure to such an extent that the tension and intrigue dissipates amid the growing mania for Law’s character. When the emotional, thematic highlight of a movie like this is a cab driver with a comedic Cockney accent, something has been hopelessly lost along the way.
Evaluating the Flickering Myth – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Tom Beasley is a freelance film journalist and wrestling fan. Follow it on Twitter via @TomJBeasley for opinions on movies, wrestling stuff and word games.