BROTHERS’ NEST gets 7/10 Sibling rivalry

Directed by Clayton Jacobson
Starring Shane Jacobson, Clayton Jacobson, Kym Gyngell


Two brothers (played by real life siblings Shane and Clayton Jacobson) slowly cycle through the pre-dawn darkness to arrive at a ramshackle remote farm. They strip off their dark outerwear to reveal orange overalls, and the fact that the brothers are obviously up to something nefarious. What follows is a carefully laid plan to carry out a horrible crime, but like any family gathering, past history and buried tensions threaten to derail everything. While older brother Jeff (Clayton Jacobson) tries to keep to his carefully planned schedule, younger brother Terry (Shane Jacobson) starts to have second thoughts, both about the plan and his brother’s motives.

A pitch black comedy that would do the Coen Brothers proud, Brothers’ Nest builds from a basis of family dynamics and squabbles into something more sinister and tragically Shakespearean. Director Clayton Jacobson (Kenny) describes it as a roller-coaster ride, and he’s correct. There is a slow, tense build up in the initial scenes that continues to ratchet up until the hectic and violent final act. However due to the delivery and timing of the Jacobson boys, this also has a sense of humour undercutting the tension. The result is a film that can turn on a dime, flipping the comic to the tragic and back again at lightning fast speed.

It is also one that rests heavily on those two performances, as it is essentially a two-hander (three if you count the farm location, in which dusty and cluttered rooms are a continual part of the film and a motivation for the brothers’ planned crime). Through their interaction the audience builds a background history of the family, an understanding of their relationship dynamic, a dawning realisation of the scope of the crime they are planning, and just how badly things are going to go when Murphy’s Law kicks in. Both Clayton and Shane delve into their own personal history, amp it up to ridiculous levels, and use it as motivation for their roles. The result is something incredibly believable and natural, as there is obvious chemistry between the two siblings, and the relationship draws from the real (albeit changed, twisted and amplified).

Brothers’ Nest is a solid Australian comedy that finds its humour in a very dark place. Few families get as twisted as this one, but scratch that surface and there is more than a passing resemblance to the average family reunion, although in general… slightly less murderous. This time those tensions have just been exaggerated, and the result is entertaining chaos.