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  Nest, The How To Lose A Fortune
Year: 2020
Director: Sean Durkin
Stars: Jude Law, Carrie Coon, Oona Roche, Charlie Shotwell, Michael Culkin, Wendy Crewson, Anne Reid, Adeel Akhtar, Annabel Leventon, James Nelson-Joyce, Stuart McQuarrie, Polly Allen, Gunnar Cauthery, Kaisa Hammerlund, Alexandra Moloney, Oliver Gatz
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Rory O'Hara (Jude Law) is from new money, he earned big on the stock exchange and now has a cool million dollars in the bank, a lot of money in the mid-nineteen-eighties. He started out in Britain on a housing estate, but pulled himself up by his bootstraps the way the current Conservative Government is insistent everyone in the country can do, and Thatcherism is a system he has bought into wholeheartedly. But Britain seemed too small for him, so he moved to New York, married Allison (Carrie Coon), adopted her daughter Samantha (Oona Roche) and had a son, Ben (Charlie Shotwell) with his new wife. However, he is restless...

It appears each new generation believes the world is going down the toilet in some way or another: in the twenty-twenties, it is the climate that proves the concern, along with the pandemic and many other elements chipping away at the mental wellbeing of the world, which may be why writer and director Sean Durkin chose to make his first film in nine years about a comparatively simpler crisis. It's an economic one, both personal and global: though it is never mentioned, it is clear that on the way the stock market is about to crash in 1987, and all the profligate spending that we were told was a good idea really was not.

This was by no means the only financial upset in the intervening years, as you may have noticed, and Rory's big talk his resources cannot match is emblematic of the politics and business dealings of the day, which as this slow-paced film unfolds, we have ample time to consider how it relates to what is happening in the news as you watch it. Rory's solution to not feeling as if he is in complete control of his destiny is to up sticks and take his family to a stately home he is renting (not buying) in Surrey, back in Blighty, where he can commute to his high-flying job in London and his wife can busy herself around the estate as his kids go to private schools.

We can perceive from how forbidding this building appears, inside and out, that Rory has more money than sense, and soon as he tries to make a fortune afresh, he won't even have his money. Each of the four family members begins to unravel in different ways, as Ben is bullied at school and turns introverted, convinced the house is haunted. In a curiously casual manner, it may well be, you can sense a mocking presence of the Olde World that looks down on this transatlantic brood with withering disdain, as if to say, we had aristocracy living here once, what makes you believe you can be any better than that with your vulgar, entitled personalities? And the chilling thing is, you may find yourself agreeing with the "ghosts".

Really it was a ghost story without clanking chains and sheets to put the wind up the residents, the ghost was of the old money bringing its power to anyone attempting to rise up the class system as Thatcher hoped they could, and if this is exposed as a joke, it is a hollow one. Though it's not as if some of the nouveau riche didn't keep their finances, and continue to do well in influence to this day, Durkin was not interested in them, it was the many more who buckled under the pressure who are his focus. Acting across the board was excellent, in places a shade better than the screenplay which conjured up slightly contrived examples of how the O'Haras are failing (Allison's horse senses trouble, Samantha dabbles in drugs, starting with a secretive tobacco habit). Reminiscent of a more subdued Requiem for a Dream only with money replacing heroin as its subject, The Nest nevertheless did weave a spell of enveloping and encroaching dread; Allison telling Rory to stop at the conclusion weirdly feels like a relief, even as a pit opens up beneath them (metaphorically speaking). Music by Richard Reed Parry.

[Picture House release this on Blu-ray and digital from 24th January 2022.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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