If you can remember the ’80s, were you really there? Do you want to remember? What, even the shoulder pads? Very spoilery. (My five star review is here.)
“Rory. Stop.” So ends The Nest, with wife Allison finally asserting her authority, literally and figuratively now at the head of the table, when he skulks in to breakfast after a disastrous night.
But let us recap what has got him here. After moving back to London, and renting an unsuitable country house for his family, Rory is convinced he can bring American-style success to his new firm, soon trying to get his boss Arthur to sell his own company to an American firm. Arthur listens but then decides not to go ahead, the reason why Rory’s contact, at the American firm, stopped returning Rory’s calls. Rory is furious, and is slapped down by Arthur for his rudeness, presumption and lack of attention to detail. Next Rory tries to muscle in on a deal his colleague Steve has been building with entrepreneurs in the Norwegian fishing industry. Steve is solid, smart in both senses but unglamorous, and knows when to stop.
Allison’s horse, which collapsed while she was riding him, has to be shot by a neighbouring farmer who then digs a grave for it on Allison and Rory’s land.
Rory goes to see his mum, who has never met his family. He invites her over but she declines. it transpires he also has a brother but hasn’t kept in touch.
He and Allison argue in their house. Allison then gets a labouring job with the farmer. Ben is bullied at his private school, while Sam tries to impress the local kids from her comprehensive school.
Rory and Allison attend a dinner with with the Norwegian businessmen and Steve. Rory becomes more and more extravagant in his claims, including that he is getting into Portuguese property and has bought a condo there. Allison bluntly pulls him up on his lies in front of everyone before leaving the restaurant. She gives her long fur coat to the coat-check girl, then heads to a nightclub and gets drunk.
At home, Sam, who is meant to be babysitting Ben, hosts an impromptu party with her local friends while Ben hides in his room and ventures into the grounds, where he sees something amiss with the land where Allison’s horse is buried.
After the dinner, Steve tells Rory the Norwegians were not impressed with him and want to do business only with Steve. Allison starts driving home drunk, but presumably pulls over and falls asleep in her car. Rory gets a taxi home and admits to the driver he lies about his wealth and has no money. The taxi driver is unimpressed with Rory’s claims to parenting and doesn’t believe Rory can pay the fare, so stops and makes him get out of the car and walk home.
Allison wakes up in her car in the morning and drives home. She finds the party remnants, and Ben hiding in his room. He shows her outside, and Allison weeps while digging up her beautiful horse with her bare hands. Sam appears.
Sam and Ben go and make breakfast. Rory makes it home, looking at the outside of the house as if wondering what he’s been playing at. In the dining room, Allison is now — significantly — at the head of the table. Sam gives Rory a chair and he sits down. He starts to say something about moving to a flat in London but Allison punctures him with a blunt “Rory. Stop.” He eats a piece of toast then starts crying.
The ending is quietly audacious. You can tell he’s still his usual bumptious self, he can’t help it, but his wife and kids metaphorically sit on him and he has to be contrite.
But for how long? Will it last? Is it the end of Rory? I suspect he would continue the destructive cycle. Allison would leave him, he’d buy her a house, then he’d lose his next shaky fortune in the houseprice crash of the early ’90s, having to sell his own and his wife’s homes when interest rates peaked. Then he’d probably lose a smaller, even shakier fortune in the first dotcom crash of the end of that decade, his employees, including the company masseuse, coming to work one day to find the removal men putting brightly-coloured cube furniture into trucks. Nowadays he’d probably be claiming he has a stash of bitcoin but has forgotten the password. (I have no idea how Bitcoin passwords work; I have met a lot of Rorys though.)
The Nest is in UK cinemas now and is available on digital in the US: