Sundance 2022 Review: ‘Nanny’
Director: Nikyatu Jusu
Screenwriter: Nikyatu Jusu
Starring: Anna Diop, Michelle Monaghan, Sinqua Walls, Morgan Spector, Rose Decker, Leslie Uggams
Runtime: 97 min
Sundance Synopsis: Aisha, an undocumented Senegalese immigrant, lands a job as a nanny of a wealthy Manhattan couple. While she easily wins the affection of their young daughter Rose, she becomes a pawn in the couple’s facade of a marriage. The mother is as controlling as the dad is disillusioned and woke. Haunted by the absence of the young son she left behind in Senegal, Aisha hopes her new job will afford her the chance to bring him to the U.S. and share in the life she is piecing together. But as his arrival approaches, a supernatural presence begins to invade both her dreams and her reality.
Nikyatu Jusu's created an utterly divine balance of the surreal and the simplistic. With shrewd story composition and a thematically rich narrative, Nanny weaves elements of non-western folklore into a lush, disturbing supernatural landscape. It's a subtle, yet pointed, commentary on motherhood, fear, loss, agency, and the oft ignored gatekeeping of the "American Dream." Anna Diop's entrances as an immigrant woman whose ability to care for her family - and build a new life - gets hampered (repeatedly ) by the exploitive nature of her job as an au pair to an affluent couple living in New York City. The mounting tension and disturbing harbingers dovetail perfectly with the harsh realties of trying to make a way under trying circumstances. Rina Young's luxuriant photography and adept use of light, is a celebration for the senses and a master class in both illuminating Black skin and layering vibrant colors and darkness to devastating effect.
After watching it in two separate sittings, I'm convinced, If you come away thinking Nanny "lost its way" at any point, then you weren't on (or centering) the right narrative path to begin with. Nanny is damn near perfect.
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