Opening 8 Jul 2021
The trailer pulls an interesting bait-and-switch. You’re certain that you’re in for a horror movie, what with the somber piano opening that builds to a crescendo of fast cuts and tortured strings, and then there’s the familiar premise: yes, it’s an attractive family moving into an ancient house of vast, echoing rooms whose towering windows admit only grayish half-light. “Something doesn’t feel right,” says the mom. No kidding.
The house is cold and imperious and not a nest by any stretch – there is no safety here because they can’t afford the place. The horror is that it’s all a sham, their lives. Rory (Jude Law) made a heap of money many years ago, but he’s been frittering it away ever since; his wife Allison, gorgeously portrayed by Carrie Coon, allowed him to move her into this massive stone pile despite her strong suspicion they were actually broke. They lie to themselves, to others, and to their kids, but nobody’s buying it anymore. As Rory’s options dry up, his desperation becomes an embarrassment. He’s unraveling and his wife is done – done with him, and done with making nice in public. It’s a hard and sad thing to watch, particularly as it’s so beautifully filmed and played.
They are, all the same, a pretty unlovable couple. Rory is flagrantly vain and shallow, but Allison isn’t a lot better. She was long complicit in her husband’s fake-it-till-you-make-it delusion of vast, cultured wealth. Her disdain for Rory’s fakery is not based in moral superiority, but is simply because it isn’t working any more. The fate of her beloved horse is awful, but it’s just as bad that she lavishes more affection on it than her own children, who are themselves in deep crisis. All the same, as everyone’s chickens come home to roost and the family crumbles, she will prove the stronger. (Mason Jane Milam)