The Nest – A Dead Horse as a Metaphor of Family

The confrontation of the American and British mentality, destructive behavior, broken family dreams – all this Sean Durkin put in his new film The Nest (2019).

by Naya Guseva


The drama tells the story of a talented businessman named Rory O'Hara (Jude Law) who went to America to conquer the heights of the stock market and establish his personal life. Now he has a beautiful wife Alison (Carrie Coon) and two children who do not see their parents – father disappears on the bourse, while mother gives riding lessons.

It is easy to guess that the American dream in this film does not come true either. The film is a kind of gradient – if at first we see a light house, sunny days and a more or less friendly family, the end shows up to us in mud, rain and typical British gray tones.
There's nothing supernatural in the film. It's about a wife losing any approach to her husband, their relationship disgusts each other, and children are afraid. Durkin does not reinvent the wheel, he just shows its glory. He shows a family that has no happy future and no hopes. Here is a skillful broker who goes bankrupt at the stock exchange and remains with nothing. The film is closer to reality, so it is not perceived as something cinematic. Which is quite in the director's style, even such a drama is not devoid of humor. In front of her husband's colleagues, Alison tells them that Rory feeds them a line about their wealth, and she herself works on the neighbors' farm just to support the family. The eldest daughter throws a party in the new estate and everything ends with the inscription "Damn Yankees" above the expensive fireplace. As you can understand, the humor here is not ordinary – it is cruel.
There is nothing to focus on in the film except the interesting metaphor woven into the plot. The family moves several times a year, so Alison has to buy new horses. This time, the stallion can't stand for too long – no matter how much she wants it to live, she has to shoot her horse so that he wouldn't suffer. This horse is a symbol of family life which can no longer run forward and carry the burden of constant disagreements. The animal dies in Rory's absence, and when he arrives, he doesn't sympathize but tells the seller that he slipped him a "defective oath" as if it was an old car. And this reflects the attitude towards the family of two main characters: the wife, who fought to the last for the life of the stallion, and her husband, who treats it as a beautiful accessory, for which he is respected in society. At the end we see a terrible scene – Alison tries to dig up with her hands an animal that has long been dead.
Durkin did not invent anything new, did not bring something exclusive to the genre. He just showed life as it is, and reminded how stupid it is to rely solely on your ambitions. Simply speaking, he reminded once again that a family is the same living creature that needs to be cared for and truly appreciated if you don't want him to die.
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