The Nanny Diaries

2008-06-09 07:26
What it's about:

Based on a best selling novel by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, Annie Braddock (Scarlett Johansson) is a college graduate who by chance ends up working as a nanny for a rich New York family. Once settled in their home, she's forced to put up with a boss from hell while juggling the family's dysfunction, a new romance and the spoiled brat under her care.

What we thought of it:

Yes it's true that Africans believe it takes a whole village to raise a child, but in the Western world all it takes is the nanny.

The Nanny Diaries shouldn't be classified a comedy because there are hardly any funny bits. Instead, it's overrun with rather sad moments highlighting how rich folk use their nannies as substitute parents while they gallivant on shopping sprees and go to beauty spas to fill the voids created by their wealthy, philandering husbands who are "working late" or on "business trips". But the movie isn't as superficial as it seems. It takes a look at what nannies go through while raising other people's children.

Scarlett Johansson is without a doubt a beautiful sister who's great to look at, but maybe this role should've been reserved for someone who suited Annie's character better. Her performance might be above average, but isn't as outstanding or as memorable as her previous roles. Donna Murphy, who plays Annie's hard working mother who sacrifices everything to send her daughter to college, delivers a flawless performance as a disappointed middle-class single mother.

Chris Evans, who plays the Harvard hottie love interest, doesn't have a strong enough presence within the movie and even at times is quite unnecessary. Then again, nannies have needs too, so maybe his character is necessary. Alicia Keys' cameo as Annie's best friend Lynnette is notable as she makes the most of her brief scenes.

But it's Mrs. X (Laura Linney) and Mr. X (Paul Giamatti) who are the showstoppers that make the film even more worthwhile. Mrs. X is in denial about her marriage and the despicable Mr. X is an absent and distant father. Linney's tight-jawed performance is so on point it breathes life into the film; she's the epitome of an uppity housewife. But it's quite sad when she realises how attached Grayer becomes to Annie and that her marriage is falling apart.

The Nanny Diaries is a bittersweet but enjoyable slice of life. Yes, it's predictable, but it's bearable as it reminds you that nannies shouldn't be substitute parents – just additional help. Africans have it right; it does take a village (a mother, father, grandparents and nannies) to raise a child.

- Gugulethu Mkhabela

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A bittersweet, poignant and enjoyable comedy about life at the top, as seen from the bottom.

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