“Nanny” - Movie Review
Parents care about their children more than any material or spiritual value. That care makes a parent endure some of the worst hardship for the sake of giving a better life for their children—even leaving the child on the promise of creating a better life for them.
Coming hot out of the Sundance film festival “Nanny”, directed by Nikyatu Jusu has just released on Amazon Prime for viewers to watch from home. Starring Anna Diop as the lead character, Aisha, and winning the US Grand Jury Prize, Jusu’s debut cements itself as a must watch.
As a Senegalese immigrant, Aisha finds a job as a nanny in desperate hope to bring her family, namely her son, to New York City. The job isn’t quite what it should be with the parents of young Rose (Rose Decker) each having their own self-centered interests.
While the movie marks itself “horror,” viewers averse to blood and guts won’t turn away in disgust. Instead “Nanny” focuses on the much more cerebral kind of horror based around loss — not just of loved ones but of familiarity and kindness. It’s this approach that makes “Nanny” so engrossing.
Any review of this movie would be remiss without mentioning Diop’s performance. It’s nothing short of incredible. From awkward twinges shown through body language and eye movement to facial expressions conveying genuine terror that make every horrifying moment feel genuine.
It is her acting along with subtle writing that allow this movie to tell so much with comparatively few locations, characters, and exposition heavy scenes.
All of the characters are near perfectly characterized as well. With Aisha being fully developed and evoking genuine support from the audience. Others like the charismatic Malik (Sinqua Walls) create well fitting uplifting moments in a horror movie.
Jusu and the actors took care to ensure every character’s personality shined through clever scene use and non-verbal acting.
The pacing in “Nanny” cruises at a scenic speed throughout. While the pacing works, the reason for the slow speed is because of how many characters there are that do not interact.
While not inherently a knock at the film, the movie takes large sections to develop the relationship with different characters. This does its job in emphasizing the current character, but it has the side effect of everyone else’s relationship grinding to a halt. Some viewers may find this stride annoying, it does work in the context of the movie.
There are some Minor spoilers ahead.
Above all, the ending stands out the most. The entire movie leads the viewer on a rather tight string, slowly letting the dread build at what's to come. Then it lets the slack build right after the dread culminates leading to a false sense of security. “Nanny” yanks the audience in for a true sucker punch ending that will breaks them.
The audience will drop jaws, potentially cry, and be left with an understanding, and horror of the unfairness of the real world.
“Nanny” while not the supernatural horror one may expect from an indie horror film, it’s absolutely an excellent subversion. From superb acting and writing that lead to an ending powerful enough to touch even the most callous of viewers, there’s good reason for Jusu’s debut film to win the highest award at Sundance Film Festival.
Luca Miceli is a first year majoring in telecommunications. To contact him please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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