Director: Clayton Jacobson
Screenwriters: Jaime Browne, with additional material by Chris Pahlow
Runtime: 97 mins.
Australian Release Date: Thursday 21 June 2018
Previewed at: Palace Central, Sydney, on 3 May 2018
It's been a long time between drinks for the Jacobson brothers, at least in terms of making another film together. The delightful Kenny, which Clayton Jacobson directed and Shane starred in, was 12 years ago now and you have to wonder why it took so long to get the boys back together again given the success of that movie. Whatever the reason, they’ve finally reunited for Brothers' Nest, a blacker-than-black comedy about two brothers attempting to commit the perfect crime. As with Kenny, Clayton is both behind and in front of the camera, directing and acting, only this time he's sharing one of the leading roles.
The film opens on the pair bicycling along a country road in the dark, before dismounting and carrying their bikes across a rough paddock, not so easy for a couple of beefy blokes. Their stealth tells us that they're up to no good and we very quickly learn why when they arrive at a humble cottage which turns out to be the home they grew up in. The house is empty and older brother Jeff (Clayton Jacobson) immediately sets about performing a set of tasks he has written on a checklist, while allocating other jobs to younger brother Terry (Shane Jacobson). As they run through the list, Terry keeps asking Jeff questions and it becomes clear that the older brother is the mastermind of the nefarious plan they intend to enact but Terry isn't quite as committed to it as Jeff is, especially as it involves murder.
Jaime Browne's and Chris Pahlow's screenplay has a lot going for it; as it unfolds, actions we've seen earlier take on added meaning. Browne is becoming one of Australia's most accomplished scriptwriters and has been involved with many excellent television series in recent years; he also came up with the idea for the very clever, underrated 2014 film The Mule, which he co-wrote with Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson. Regrettably, the first half of Brothers' Nest is let down by the Jacobson brothers’ rather declamatory style of delivering their lines, as if they're on a stage instead of a film set. Granted, it's a two-hander at this point of the story, so it could almost be a play but that's no excuse. Later, though, as the action hots up and other characters join them, the pair loosen up and become much more ‘reel' (sorry, couldn't resist). Lynette Curran and Kim Gyngell are both superb in small but crucial roles as Jeff and Terry's mother and step-dad. The production design and art direction by Robert and Martin Perkins respectively, are worth mentioning; the house where most of the action takes place is totally recognisable. If you've ever spent any time in rural Australia you would probably have been to a place very much like this one, right down to the decorations and knick-knacks on display.
Brothers’ Nest won't break any records at the box office but it's worth the price of admission if only to see Shane Jacobson get his teeth into a meaty role, after two shocking efforts already released this year, That's Not My Dog and The BBQ. The plot is tense as things start to unravel. It's a perfect example of that old adage about how ‘the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.’