Sundance 2020 Review: The Nest Is a Colossal Bore

Sean Durkin’s awaited follow-up to Martha Marcy May Marlene has the makings of a strong retro thriller, yet succumbs to being like a feature-length film adaptation of the SNL skit The Needlers only with a more dour atmosphere. It’s almost two hours of a couple who clearly should be getting a divorce, yet choose to remain together because they’re evident masochists.

Here’s a quick overview as to who these masochists are. Rory (Jude Law) is a British businessman who moves his family back to London because he’s unsatisfied with the house and job he has in America. This upsets his wife Allison (Carrie Coon) and causes immediate friction between the two. It also causes tension between her and her rebellious teenage daughter Sam (Oona Roche). The only family member to show Allison any grand sympathy is her young son Benjamin (Charlie Shotwell) who still starts acting out himself once they become settled in their new household.

As the family deals with life in their humongous countryside house, we hardly see any drastic events transpire. Again, it’s mostly just Rory and Allison arguing over how much of a selfish egotist Rory is with little payoff. The lucid cinematography by Matyas Erdely does a good job at presenting the picture with a look that is inviting and ominous, but watching the film still begs the question of where the ominous thrills actually are.

It’s also unfortunate to see Carrie Coon’s talents go to waste even if she does what she can to make the material work. Same with Jude Law who still does a terrific job at playing a schmuck husband. But again, those actors can only do so much with poor material.

The Nest feels like Durkin took some of the best things about Martha Marcy May Marlene, both the lustrous cinematography and creepy isolated setting, and used them to compensate for its lack of storyline. Really, there’s no story. No themes. No nothing. As a result, not only is it the main couple that suffers, but the audience as well.

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Matthew St.Clair

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