A poor ending can really derail an entire film.
It doesn’t matter how well made the movie is, how engaging of a story it has or how great the performances are, a film’s failure to stick the landing can easily sour an entire moviegoing experience.
This is the case with “The Nest,” a new drama starring Jude Law and Carrie Coon that opens at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center this weekend.
“The Nest” is set in the 1980s and centers on a family that moves from the United States to London in search of better job opportunities. The father in this family is a man named Rory (Law). Rory is originally from England, but he had moved to the States when he was a younger man seeking the excitement of an “American lifestyle.” While in the U.S., he met his soon-to-be-wife Allison (Coon), with whom he has one child while becoming the father figure to the daughter she already has.
The film focuses on this family adjusting to their new lives in London. Rory gets a job at a sizable investment company, and Allison takes care of the children and delves deeper into her love of horseback riding. Both children attend new schools where they desperately seek new friendships. Over the course of the movie, each member of the family gets increasingly stressed about their individual situations, which eventually leads to some sort of climax where everything comes to a head.
Except, it doesn’t.
There really is no ending to “The Nest.” While, for sake of the review, I won’t spoil the events near the film’s conclusion, there’s honestly not a lot to spoil to begin with. This movie doesn’t really go anywhere. With all the family drama that builds over the course of the nearly two-hour runtime, one would think there’s some point to it all. But there just … isn’t. The movie kind of unceremoniously ends without any sort of resolution or confrontation at all.
I get that leaving a film open-ended is often a stylistic choice. Some of my favorite movies have deliberately vague endings because they can show that life goes on after the movie, and they can imply some sort of continuation to the story. But “The Nest” feels as if there is an entire half hour or so of story that was just chopped off the end. The arcs and conflicts these characters are facing make it feel like the movie is trying to make some vague point about what’s really important in life. Unfortunately, the movie never actually gets to that point. There’s never any moment where everything ties together. Instead, because there was no sealing conclusion, the whole movie just unravels as soon as the credits roll.
What makes “The Nest” even more disappointing is the fact that everything leading up to the end was excellent.
The performances were absolutely wonderful. Law and Coon both brought an incredible amount of depth and poise to their characters. When Rory and Allison get along, it really feels like these two love each other. But when they’re at odds or arguing, it’s explosive and riveting. Law is well-known as a true powerhouse actor, and Coon, a relative unknown, is able to impressively match his skills scene for scene.
The direction and overall technical execution of the movie were outstanding as well. The cinematography often utilizes long stationary shots that seem to focus on the environments the characters are in rather than the characters themselves. It was oddly unsettling, and on a few occasions, it almost made it feel as if the movie was going to turn into a horror film at any second. That unsettling nature adds an insane amount of tension to each story thread in the film and keeps the audience engaged in scenes where nothing is really happening. Additionally, the lighting, sound design, editing and most every other technical aspect of the film were stellar as well.
“The Nest” is brilliantly crafted and pieced together, but unfortunately the failings of its story stop it from becoming the outstanding family drama it was trying to be.
If the movie was a little bit longer and included a more satisfying conclusion, I would recommend checking it out in a heartbeat. Regretfully, the ending stops the film dead in its tracks and makes the whole experience one that’s just not worth the time.