By Anne Brodie
Jude Law and Carrie Coon are Rory and Allison, a well-to-do eighties couple with two children. He announces one night that they’re moving to London where he can work a big business deal, even if he can’t explain it to her. Allison reluctantly agrees to abandon their “forever” home if she can bring her beloved horse. Rory goes ahead of them, buys a ridiculously large stately home with stables for Alison’s horse, and the kids begin new lives. Tensions mount as he makes bad decisions, and before long, he’s hanging by a thread. Writer-director Sean Durkin’s melancholic and astute character piece The Nest looks at a family in crisis created by greed, lies and bravado. I spoke with Durkin from Los Angeles.
We’re seeing things through a different lense these days. The Nest looks at dark side of capitalist greed.
Absolutely that was the core of something I wanted to touch on. Always start with character first and then you want to focus on the people and human aspects and what happens to a family in this moment in time. But I really wanted to celebrate values of the mid 80’s to get at the core of the conflict within the family. Greed and ambition and bigger-is-better and always wanting more. London at the height of it, the de-regulation and privatisation and everything being sold off, becomes the undercurrent for a character- driven story.
The film’s so unsettling as we watch the family collapse, like a suspense thriller. Ibsen on meth. Like a road map as to how not to live your life or be a parent or spouse.
As I don’t believe in judging my characters, I don’t like to judge anything anyone does in the film. As humans we’re all bad parents at some point. I wanted to really look at the complications and people get on a path they think will make their life better and it’s made it worse. Rory and Allison are like children, they are children to somebody, and that is a glimpse into their interaction. In the brief scenes of the children with their mother, you have a glimpse of the values they had and what they were up against and we shed a light on both sides.
Carrie’s character’s beloved horse makes the journey from the US to England at great risk. He is an important part of the story.
I think horses are incredible creatures and I think there can be a significant misconceptions of horse life. Oftentimes horse ownership is associated with wealth. There is a certain cost to owning horses, and for some it signifies wealth and it’s a status symbol. But horse people see horses as animals. That’s part of the conflict. She’s a horse person, an animal person, she’s hardworking and does physical labour as part of horse ownership, and that’s the part of her story.
Interesting choice pairing Jude Law and Carrie Coon. Why them?
Individually, I knew Carrie through friends and the casting director mentioned Carrie, and I though of course! Yes, it’s her, of course it’s her, she really just got the duality, that’s one thing, then another, the agreements we make in family and marriage. She was interested in that, so we started working right away. I sent Jude the script and he responded and wanted to meet. He asked me a lot of questions, how to bring the heart to Rory no matter what decisions he makes. And operating from a place of love. And Jude has enormous heart and warmth, so he had these things. And he had the same interest in bringing that warmth. So, they were invested, and each was willing to go to the uncomfortable places and say horrible things to each other and do horrible things to people.
This a pretty specific story. What inspired it? Is it based on someone you know?
I think as you’re writing you draw on many things, your own family, the people you’re friends with, their parents. And I became a parent myself and it’s a combination of things, absorbing life and fiction and blending those things to make a film. I think what makes that is specific details, for me, I build things incrementally in the details. I look for a detail that is truthful, something that feels truthful. And if I’m inspired by something that really happened, they all come together and capture the emotion.