Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Reviews of Marriage Story "The Nest"

From the Detroit News:

A tightly clenched marriage story, writer-director Sean Durkin’s “The Nest” takes place at the height of the mid-1980s, a year or two before Gordon Gekko and Oliver Stone made unscrupulous capitalism so damnably aspirational in “Wall Street.”

Durkin’s second feature is not primarily concerned with deregulated excess or financial matters, however. “The Nest” is more about the dangerous facades and thin ice of so many family relationships. The troubled air of Durkin’s previous feature, the eerily effective cult drama “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” has something in common with the air in this one.

When we first see Rory, played by Jude Law, he’s making a transatlantic phone call that will change his life. The steely look on his face just before dialing suggests a natural-born deception artist about to go into his dance.

Read more here.


From Vanity Fair ("One of the Best Films of the Year"):

When I first saw the new film The Nest (in theaters on September 18, available digitally November 17), it played as tragedy. All the way back at Sundance—a flickering memory from a distant, lost age—I regarded Sean Durkin’s stately, restrained work as a grim tale of economic ruin. Jude Law plays a scheming businessman, or perhaps conman, who moves his wife (Carrie Coon) and children (Oona Roche and Charlie Shotwell) back to his native England, with the plan to make a mint in the slowly modernizing London business sector. Things fall apart, the family fractures. I left the film chilled and anxious.

I watched it again this week, after months of so many real things falling apart, and the film played differently, to surprising effect. Its bleak mechanics were still there; Law’s Rory is still a shifty liar, Coon’s Allison still drowns in her own compromise, the kids Samantha and Benjamin still spin off into isolated neglect. But buried under all that—something unearthed by the end of Durkin’s exquisitely modulated film—is a weird, weary kind of hope. The family bottoms out, and will need to wrestle their way back up to the surface somehow. But still, they’re there, warts and resentments and all. 

The Nest is a complex movie, despite its economical size. At initial glance, it is mostly just the story of a family moving, sort of for Dad’s job, and not finding what they like in their new environment. It’s not terribly far off from a great Simpsons episode about the same thing. But what Durkin does so smartly—as he did in his debut feature and most recent film, Martha Marcy May Marlene—is fill the picture with a creeping atmosphere that implies deeper, danker things beyond what we’re seeing in literal form. 

Read more here.

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