私s it a ghost story? A parable of family dysfunction? Or perhaps a fever dream of neoliberalism’s troubled birth in the Thatcher-Reagan 80s and the special relationship of greed and good? Or is this rivetingly strange movie an adaptation of some 70s or 80s novel that we had somehow all forgotten about: something by Iris Murdoch, or maybe Piers Paul Read? The Nest’s director is film-maker Sean Durkin, his first since the intriguing quasi-Manson cult drama Martha Marcy May Marlene から 2011, and however much it feels like an adaptation, this is his own original screenplay – and very original.
The setting is the mid-1980s, with news about President Reagan on the radio and everyone smoking indoors, and the story begins in the handsome suburban home in upstate New York of Rory O’Hara, an expatriate Briton played by Jude Law. He has made a fortune as a commodity trader in Manhattan and one morning high-handedly tells his American wife Allison (Carrie Coon), stepdaughter Sam (Oona Roche) and young son Ben (Charlie Shotwell) that he has accepted a job offer from his old boss in the City of London. Restless, mercurial, fast-talking Rory evidently has a yen to return in triumph to his old stamping ground, and maybe cautiously reconnect with his glowering widowed mum – a terrifically potent cameo from Anne Reid.
And so the bewildered family leave the sunny US for rainy old Britain, where Rory has rented a huge, 闇, 18th-century manor house in Surrey with first editions and panelled walls and secret passages, which he excitedly tells them was the temporary home of Led Zeppelin while they worked on an album. He encourages Allison to pursue her interest in horses here and packs Ben off to the nearest posh school where he has to wear a uniform with mortifyingly uncool short trousers while sulky, mutinous Sam gets to go to the local comprehensive. But soon it is clear that Rory’s job isn’t going so well, Allison is angry and depressed, Sam is getting into drugs and Ben is wetting the bed. And there are very disquieting ghostly things happening in this absurd stately home, symptoms of psychic pain that are also being intuited by Allison’s horse.
No one actually calls this house the nest, and a less nest-like home can hardly be imagined: uncomfy, uncosy, unwelcoming and unhappy – or, おそらく, the point is that nests are exactly like this, in the wild. もちろん, there’s something utterly bizarre in the simple transplanting of this happy, prosperous cornfed American family into a dank, draughty mausoleum, the kind of place that poor, unsatisfied Rory needs to persuade himself that he has properly made it, commuting every day and drinking pensive lagers on the train.
While Rory is in the office, doing boozy lunches or going to Arsenal games with his old mate Steve (Adeel Akhtar), and recklessly spending on the expectation of some big deal, it’s Allison and the kids who are back in this creepy old mansion, unsure as to why the tradesmen aren’t getting paid and the cheques are bouncing. She is wondering: are they, 実際には, terribly poor? And the creature who senses all this in a series of surreal and shockingly unpleasant sequences is Allison’s horse Richmond, whose burial scene is one of the most disturbing things I have seen this year. You watch as the perfect Anglo-American family teeters on the edge of emotional bankruptcy.
This is a film that swerves away from categorisation. It’s an 80-set picture that wears its period locations and its musical references lightly. It’s a city trader film where the main bad guy doesn’t do coke. And it’s a scary movie whose disturbing supernatural interludes happen almost incidentally, a sideshow to the emotional collapse.