Jude Law and Carrie Coon Can’t Save Sundance Disappointment ‘The Nest’
The Nest has all the elements of powerful drama, but it just falls short. It’s got Jude Law and Carrie Coon in the leads. It’s the second film from Martha Marcy May Marlene writer/director Sean Durkin. It’s a grown-up drama about the strains of a marriage and a family, yet it doesn’t quite resonate.
Sadly, The Nest is one of the only real disappointments of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. It’s okay, they can’t all be winners.
Jude Law and Carrie Coon in a marriage story
Rory O’Hara (Law) breaks the news to his wife Allison (Coon) that he’s got a new job opportunity in England. She doesn’t want to uproot their family again. They’ve already moved a lot and this was already supposed to be their last move. Still, she reluctantly supports Rory.
In England, the O’Haras have a huge new house. For a while you’re just waiting for the film to reveal what it’s really about. It can’t just be about a family’s rough adjustment to the U.K. Allison gets overwhelmed, starts showing up late to pick her kids (Charlie Shotwell and Oona Roche) up from school all the while pretending it’s not hard for her. Once the real conflict arises, it never quite goes all the way.
‘The Nest’ inevitably falls apart
The money at this new job isn’t what Rory hoped for of course. The tension escalates as the money runs out. Allison and Rory ultimately fight over money, and it’s relevant. Allison really calls Rory out on his B.S. His job didn’t come through, and he compromised his whole family for it.
Work dried up for Rory in the U.S. and instead of adapting to it, cutting back, tightening the belts, he went bigger. Rory’s ambitions are ultimately unsustainable and the pressure breaks his family.
Jude Law and Carrie Coon aren’t enough to make ‘The Nest’ work
Law and Coon are great and you can really see both sides. Rory may be misguided but you can understand the influences that make him think if he just hangs on he can pull through. Allison really gave him every chance to come through, so when he leaves her hanging it’s satisfying that she pushes back.
The Nest has a valid point that’s relevant to a lot of families. At a certain point you have to cut your losses and stop dragging your family down blind alleys. The film needs a little more though. It teases Allison having a breakdown, and a possible supernatural influence driving the O’Haras apart, but there’s no payoff.
Rory tries to reconnect with his mom and that goes about as well as his job did. It’s a good scene but it only serves to hint at Rory’s influences that perhaps made him distrust family or perhaps a history of alienating his family.
The ambiguity itself isn’t a problem. Durkin’s previous film certainly had its ambiguity. It’s that The Nest never achieves a catharsis. It escalates and escalates and then instead of releasing, it just sort of stops. They have some good arguments, but like most real life arguments, there’s no resolution. That may be something real couples have to deal with, but in a movie it’s not too much to expect those fights to have a point.