Sean Durkin deserves awards attention for ‘The Nest’ original screenplay

Sean Durkin‘s “The Nest” is one of the best reviewed movies of the year, meriting a score of 90 at Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus view of this IFC release sums it up well: “An effective pairing of period setting and timeless themes,  the film wrings additional tension out of its unsettling story with an outstanding pair of lead performances.”

As with his last film, “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” Durkin both wrote and directed “The Nest,” about a 1980s American family that moves to an English country manor and experiences turmoil. His unique perspective elevates the film, which blends lengthy monologues delivered by stars Carrie Coon and Jude Law about the state of their marriage with an unconventional element of dread. “The Nest” brings something new to the domestic drama genre.  Critics celebrated Durkin’s screenplay in their reviews, singling out its blending of themes.

As Bob Strauss observed in the San Francisco Chronicle, the script “not only pinpoints the specific dynamics within one troubled family, but also shows how the go-go economics of the Reagan/Thatcher era destabilized individuals’ sense of their self-worth.” By setting the film in the ’80s, Durkin examines a couple drawn in by the promise of prosperity but realizing the true cost of chasing after something unattainable. But unlike the ’80s, the script does not lack subtlety, “feeling for these characters without pandering to the audience,” said Matt Zoller Seitz in his 4-star review on For Peter Debruge of Variety, this film is “considerably more challenging” than his last.

The Indiana Film Journalists Association cited Durkin with a Best Original Screenplay nomination for their year-end awards. Expect him to reap more bids in the coming weeks culminating with the Independent Spirit Award. “Martha Marcy May Marlene” earned four nominations from this group that celebrates indie fare and “The Nest” could well match that mark.

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