Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Nanny Diaries

The Nanny Diaries; Comedy, USA, 2007; D: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Puichi, S: Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney, Nicholas Art, Paul Giamatti, Chris Evans, Alicia Keys

Annie Bradock is a 21-year old girl from New Jersey who graduated Anthropology and has an identity crisis. One day, as she was sitting in Central Park, she accidentally saved a little kid, Grayer, from colliding with a careless passerby, and is thus offered and employed by the kid's mother, Mr. X, as a nanny. At one hand, Annie is glad to step a foot in New York, meet a dashing young lad Hayden and have a job, but on the other she is exhausted by Grayer's antics, ashamed to tell about her job to her mom and annoyed by the snobby Mrs. X. When womanizer Mr. X makes a pass to Annie, she is innocently fired by Mrs. X which causes great grief for Grayer. But Annie leaves a video message to Mrs. X, telling her to take care more of her child and less of her parties and glamour. Mrs. X becomes a decent mother and Annie finds new confidence.

„The Nanny Diaries“ is a gentle social satire on the cold and snobby Manhattan upper class, a watered down adaptation of Emma McLaughlin's and Nicola Kraus' novel with the same title that gains 90 % of it's charm thanks to the smashing performance by Scarlett Johansson. Even though it's a lot weaker than their excellent first film „American Splendor“, the husband and wife director team Berman-Pucini were unrightfully bashed by most critics since „Nanny“ is a very fine piece of flat entertainment; it's funny, touching, has a tight rhythm and never makes a terrible mistake in some of the more delicate moments. They even managed to make the annoying kid not so annoying, while some of the scenes crafted are very good, from the humorous ones, like the scene where Grayer escapes from Annie by pulling her pants down (!), up to the emotional, especially in the very powerful moment where Annie leaves the estate of the X family in a taxi while the sad Grayer is running after her, which seem incredibly sincere and honest. Still, for all of it's effort, it seems the (movie) story misses out on that what it wants to exactly say and be, which is why it starts to seem defunct after a while. It's indicative, as well as ironic, that one of the best moments in the film comes when the insecure heroine is daydreaming that she is flying holding on to an umbrella - it seems as if „The Nanny Diaries“ are the most powerful when they are not „The Nanny Diaries“, but actually a different film, „Mary Poppins“.


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