★★★★☆

Class in British society is omnipresent and can be felt walking down any street in the country. On the flip side Stateside, it operates on a different level with money helping create new risers and fallers in the system. Sean Durkin’s second feature after the well-received Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene, The Nest examines the lengths one man will go to in attempting to fit into British society, and the repercussions of his efforts upon his seemingly idyllic family headed up by wife Allison (Carrie Coon).

The man in question is Rory (Jude Law), who is an ambitious entrepreneur and former commodities broker. Whilst seemingly living the American Dream, he persuades his American wife, Allison (Carrie Coon), and their two children to leave the comforts of their suburban American life, filled with modernist architecture, and return to his native England during the 1980s. A tangible feeling of opportunity pulses through Rory in the early moments of the film and his enthusiasm pulls Allisson along with him. Upon arriving back in London, he rejoins his former firm in the City near Bank Station and purchases the lease for a year in a remote centuries-old country manor in Surrey, once the recording house of Led Zeppelin, according to Rory’s anecdotes. Within the grounds, Allison has a stable built for her beloved horse, which she has imported over from the States. As life starts to unfold in their new home, the promised new beginning seems to swiftly disappear.

As Roy, Jude Law delivers one of his most engaging performances, channelling Jay Gatsby in every sense of the word. Bustling with energy, enthusiasm and drive, his character is constantly searching for a way to improve his family’s lifestyle. Capturing the fragility between aspiration and obsession, there is a great theatrical quality imbued in the character, yet Law brings such themes to the forefront of every scene with a force seen in his earlier works in The Talented Mr Ripley and even more recently in Vox Lux. The performance is one to be revelled in with all its nuanced. 

Similarly, Carrie Coon’s performance is one to be cherished with her versatility in offering vulnerability to Law’s ador. A fish out of water in every sense, she conveys angst with the subtlest of movements. As the film progresses, the interplay between the two actors takes centre stage in the building of tension through the grainy film stock and ambient mood of dread to the family’s new start in England. Captured through Durkin’s astute script, angst builds gradually scene by scene with a steady hand. 

The Nest is a bold feature developed by a promising filmmaker, who feels established even two feature films in. For Law and Coon, their performances elevate an already sharp script on class dissection, marriage and aspiration. Both actors demonstrate their capabilities on-screen with a beguiling edge, making events utterly watchable and tense.

Alasdair Bayman