I don’t really know how to intro these posts anymore. “This is a film we’ve watched, here’s what I thought” is about the gist of it.
This week’s choice by Jill though is very special, I’ll give it that.
Directed by: Nikyatu Jusu
United States, 2022
Drama, horror, fantasy
Runtime: 99 minutes
Immigrant nanny Aisha, piecing together a new life in New York City while caring for the child of an Upper East Side family, is forced to confront a concealed truth that threatens to shatter her precarious American Dream.
Everything Aisha (Diop) – a Senegalese immigrant making her way in NYC – does, she does for her six-year-old son back home. While she hustles, her boy Lamine stays in Senegal with her cousin Mariatou. Through regular video calls, she stays on top of his growth and counts down the days before she can bring them both to America to live permanently.
Hired as a nanny for rich white woman Amy (Monaghan) and her daughter Rose, it looks like she’ll soon be able to make the dream a reality. Things look up further when she connects with Malik, the doorman at the family’s apartment block.
Unfortunately, despite bonding strongly with Rose, Amy and her husband Adam are pretty cavalier about paying Aisha on time. In fact, their general attitude towards her is pretty flippant, expecting her to work into the night while distracted by their own work, even asking her to stay overnight with no notice.
This of course impacts Aisha’s plan to bring Lamine over as soon as she can and extra pressure is added when Amy leaves the family home without notice, meaning Aisha has to work full time.
While this continues, Aisha is embraced by Malik’s family, in particular his grandmother Kathleen, with whom she shares a magical something something. This ethereal undercurrent is key as Aisha starts to experience deeply unsettling dreams of her son and later, distressing visions apparently brought on by Lamine’s unspoken jealousy.
When Mariatou arrives on American soil without Lamine, these supernatural experiences take on new meaning – and our girl is faced with a life-altering decision. Will new life mark a new beginning or is it all over for Aisha?
I know this is cryptic to say the least but, like last week, this is definitely a mystical fairy tale which is hard to define. I liked it though. Anna Diop is a joy to watch and she carries this film effortlessly. At the same time the whole film is beautiful to look at, and the horror elements are unsettling and atmospheric in the best way. I really enjoy the concept of negative energy being transferred from so far away, and what could be more potent that the jealousy of a young child towards another? Especially one getting all the attention due to circumstance.
While the ending is devastating, it also offers a lot of hope and it’s quite beautiful really.
My main take away though is the fact that this film feels like its presented through the white person’s gaze. Aisha and all the non-Caucasian characters are perceived as mythical, magical creatures – objects of curiosity and novelty – without being given even the basic respect. Rose’s mother is all over her nanny until she finds out she’s been feeding her daughter traditional Senegalese food.
I think that’s really interesting.
3 thoughts on “Nanny review”
Oh, interesting! I liked this one but felt more conflicted about the rating.
Agree so much that Anna Diop is incredible in this. And there was some comment/review I stumble across about the cinematography very intentionally focusing on illuminating darker skin.
I wanted more siren screen time, TBH.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I can wholeheartedly agree that we needed more mermaid for our buck! I love that comment about the lighting, it makes perfect sense and plays into my white person’s gaze theory. Even though maybe I was more sold on this than you were, I do support your critique, particularly of the surrounding characters x
LikeLiked by 1 person