The Nest

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Nest Movie Poster Image
Expert direction overcomes shallowness of mature drama.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 107 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

It may not be the most relatable problem, but movie deals with how it feels to have once had power, status, wealth and then lose them. Loss and pain lead to obsession here, but in the end, family seems to prevail. Communication and truth-telling become important themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No clearly positive role models. Allison seems to be the one working hardest to hold the family together, but even she comes unglued in several scenes, acts irrationally.

Violence

Character shoots an injured horse (off-screen). Limp, dead horse dropped into grave by tractor. Horse later dug up. Mention of being bullied.

Sex

Passionate sex between married couple includes bare breasts, moaning, thrusting, climaxing. Bare breasts seen more than once. Kissing. Man without shirt on.

Language

Strong language includes uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "c--t," "bastard," "son of a bitch," "damn," "shut up," plus "oh my God" and "Jesus f--king Christ."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens drink and smoke at a party, some to point of vomiting. Teens discuss buying speed. Additional teen smoking; mom finds hidden cigarette butts in teen's room. A main adult character smokes regularly. Social drinking (wine). Characters drink in a bar and on a train.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Nest is a 1980s-set drama about a businessman who's desperately trying to land a big deal to keep his family's privileged status intact. There's a fairly explicit sex scene between a married couple: A woman is shown topless (in more than one scene), and there's thrusting, moaning, and climaxing. Characters kiss, and a man is shown shirtless. An injured horse is shot off-screen, and there's a burial (the horses's limp body is dropped into a grave from a tractor); the horse is later dug up. Bullying is mentioned. Strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "c--t," and more. Teens throw a huge party, where some smoke and drink to excess (vomiting, passing out, etc.). Teens also talk about buying speed, and a teen hides cigarette butts from her mother (who finds them). Adults smoke cigarettes and drink socially. The plot isn't very dynamic, but director Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene) gives the material a nuanced, poetic touch, and it works.

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What's the story?

In THE NEST, it's the 1980s, and entrepreneur/stock trader Rory (Jude Law) suddenly announces to his riding teacher wife, Allison (Carrie Coon), that they should pack up their two kids, leave their New York home, and move to London, where Rory grew up. He thinks that opportunity there is ripe for the taking. So he sets them up in an enormous old mansion and goes back to his old job, trying to convince his boss (Michael Culkin) to sell the firm for huge profits. Meanwhile, Allison's horse arrives from the United States, but he's sick and soon must be put down. Teen daughter Samantha (Oona Roche) falls in with some reckless kids and starts partying, drinking, and smoking, while younger son Benjamin (Charlie Shotwell) gets into trouble at school. Things really start to unravel as bills go unpaid and nerves are frayed.

Is it any good?

A shallow story about shallowness, this drama still gets fairly gripping thanks to its director's immense skill for composition and performance, as well as dashes of patience and sensitivity. The follow-up to director Sean Durkin's powerful, highly acclaimed feature debut Martha Marcy May Marlene, from 2011, The Nest may somewhat resemble movies about unchecked greed and the obsessive search for status (Wall Street, The Wolf of Wall Street, etc.), but it doesn't include the flashy, intoxicating excitement of those films. Rather it exposes the behavior for what it is: destructive and ruinous. Law gives a great performance; in one of the best scenes, he sums up Rory's obsession with the line, "I had a million dollars once ..."

Coon's Allison eventually becomes the movie's heart, her cool facade crumbling and reflecting the fate of her poor horse. Hers is another fantastic performance, and it's equalled by the two children. Durkin frames all of them in the enormous house, using cavernous spaces, secret doors, unknown corners, and dizzying high spaces to illustrate their heartbreaking disconnect. Ultimately, The Nest may cause a "that's it?" reaction in many viewers, but Durkin's unhurried, poetic examination of the characters' sadnesses and heartbreaks gracefully overcomes any general lack of plot.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Nest depicts drinking, drug use, and smoking. Do the adults serve as positive role models for the kids? Is teen drinking glamorized? Are consequences shown? Why does that matter?

  • How is sex depicted? Is it used to deepen or underline the characters' relationship? What values are imparted?

  • Do you think it was necessary for the movie to show the dead horse? Is this an important image for the story or for the character? How would the movie be different without it?

  • Have you ever had a measure of power, status, or wealth, and lost it? How did it feel?

  • What role does bullying play in the story?

Movie details

  • In theaters: September 18, 2020
  • Cast: Jude Law, Carrie Coon, Oona Roche
  • Director: Sean Durkin
  • Studio: IFC Films
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 107 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: language throughout, some sexuality, nudity and teen partying
  • Last updated: September 28, 2020

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