“The Nest” (shown here) arrives Monday (July 13) on Acorn, giving us one of those couples we can all envy.
Rich, smart and attractive, they live in a gorgeous, waterfront home near Glasgow. And then … well, then they meet a woman who has a mysterious past and nothing to lose.
Parts of that plot could describe many movies. This could be “Chloe” with Amanda Seyfried or “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” with Rebecca De Mornay or countless others. Storytellers love to start with perfection, then stir things up.
But “The Nest” has the advantage of time and detail. It’s a five-hour story – the first two hours debut Monday on www.acorn.tv – with the time to provide depth to each character, while spinning them through fresh detours.
We might want to dislike Dan and Emily (Martin Compston and Sophie Rundle), but they’re basically good people with one problem: They need a surrogate to carry their baby … and Scottish law prohibits paying someone, other than expenses.
Dan’s sister (Fiona Bell) – a smart and outspoken soul – is one strong choice. After that, however, they’re left with young Kaya (played by Mirren Mack, shown here with Rundle).
There’s every reason to worry about her. She’s 18, a drifter with an uncertain past. Why would she want to do this? Her first explanation is simple: Right now, her life is nothing; she wants it to be … well, something.
Given the luxury of five hours, screenwriter Nicole Taylor is able to add twists, surprises and extra depth to all of her characters. Fortunately, the two directors (Andy De Emmony and Simen Alsvik) have gifted actors to handle it.
Compston, Rundle and Bell are Scottish actors, mostly unknown to American viewers. (One exception is the Line of Duty series on Acorn and AMC, which stars Compston as an anti-corruption officer.) They provide strong, subtle performances.
Mack is virtually a newcomer, but she’s a revelation here. Washing across her fragile face is a rich mixture of pain and determination.
Alongside all that subtlety, there’s one character who’s meant to be the opposite. In the final hours, we meet Kaya’s mother, superbly played by Shirley Henderson.
She fills the screen with venom and vile power, while we find more empathy for the others. It’s worth the five-hour ride.