I believe one desire that reigns true amongst us all is to do well in life: to not worry about money, give our children the best education, live in a nice home but how far would we go to obtain “the dream”? It is easy to assume that if we had everything we ever wanted that we would be happy, that is far from the truth. Inanimate objects and our materialistic desires will never fill the hole inside of us that we are striving to fill. In some instances there are those that believe they are solely represented based on their image and social stature; a feeling I believe sways too much of our attention and self-worth. In what I would call a powerful case study into such ideology is in the new film The Nest starring Jude Law (Closer, The Young Pope) and Carrie Coon (The Leftovers, Fargo) written/directed by Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene).
The film follows the O’Hara family as they move from New York City back to Rory’s (Law) old home of London, England with promises of grand things on the horizon. Rory has made all the arrangements hoping to make a smooth transition into their new countryside mansion including building a horse stable for his wife Allison (Coon) to work out of and enrolling his children in the best schools. What seems like the perfect ending is only the spark to something that has been brewing for a long time. We soon witness how everything Rory and Allison think they wanted and needed is slowly ruining not only their lives but their children’s as well. We discover the deep rooted issues that both Rory and Allison are dealing with and what has driven them to this critical point in their lives. We also have to incorporate that this film takes place in the 1980’s, which became the decade of the greed/yuppie lifestyle. Films like Wall Street and American Psycho exemplify the utter dominance of the mentality that what you owned was who you were.
Durkin plays the film as a chess game of wits and one-upmanship between husband and wife. He uses scenery such as the lavish mansion and massive open landscape as traps and desolate areas of solitude. There are analogies between animals and these characters that isn’t hard to miss but still powerful in its meanings. Durkin is only aided in his vision by the remarkable jobs of both Law and Coon. Law is the short-sighted, impulsive person that thinks he’s doing the best he can but in reality is just meeting the bare minimum with not much to show for it except his vanity. Coon could have played a timid wife to Rory but instead is steadfast in what she wants and strong willed. It is easy to see these individuals as just flawed but it is all that more powerful when we discover their true motives and what has led them to this deciding moment. This type of mentality and lifestyle spreads like a sickness that slowly infects their children as well who are just swept up into their parent’s madness. Its relevance is all that more important now with the advent of social media and the sensation of becoming an instant celebrity. Our worth and relevance is not based on materialistic objects and that is a mantra I am all for putting out into the world.