Connect with us
Nanny
Image Courtesy of Sundance

Culture

Nanny is a Tense, Singular Vision

Nikyatu Jusu’s feature debut, Nanny, is an assured, haunting journey through the immigrant experience with an astounding lead performance.

Sundance 2022: Nanny Review

Anna Diop leads Nikyatu Jusu’s feature debut in a performance that echoes the pain and strength of its immigrant protagonist. Nanny is a singular vision of parents struggling to be there for their children and the resiliency of immigrant mothers who find themselves taken advantage of while trying to do what others effortlessly achieve. Dreams turn into nightmares in this haunting supernatural drama that painfully evokes the distance between the life we build for ourselves versus the life we’re handed.

The pressure on Aisha (Diop) is immense right from the beginning of Nanny. Having immigrated to New York from Senegal in order to secure a better life before having her son brought to the States, she finds herself with a new position as a nanny for an affluent, white family in Manhattan. Their child, Rose (Rose Decker) is to follow a strict diet listed by her mother, Amy (Michelle Monaghan), and Aisha is to also aid in teaching Rose French. However, she finds her time and personal life being disregarded almost immediately.

The stress she finds having to take care of someone’s child in a very particular way is outweighed by the absence of her son and a worry that something has happened to him. When Rose’s father, Adam (Morgan Spector), comes home, Aisha begins getting pulled into the center of their marital problems while she wrestles with her own fear that she may never see her son again. Written and directed by Jusu, Nanny creates a tension between Aisha and Rose’s parents that taps into inequality and competitiveness on many different levels. From Amy’s struggles to be an independent woman in a male-dominated world to Aisha having to fight for the compensation she deserves from her upper class employers.

It’s the supernatural elements of Nanny that give Aisha’s journey more tension. Cribbing from West African folklore, Aisha struggles to find solid ground to stand on. With her paycheck constantly in flux, an inability to communicate with her son, and an ominous presence interjecting itself within Aisha’s dreams and daily life, Jusu has bound her protagonist in a way that reflects the immigrant experience. It’s a suffocating film that occasionally leans harder into the occult than it warrants, but still translates to a tense experience. The horror works to heighten the suspense and drags the audience into Aisha’s mindset.

Diop’s performance is the emotional throughline of Nanny, keeping the film interesting even when it sometimes takes some detours into less compelling territory. She’s a powerhouse, bringing an intensity and gentleness to a character that is both hardened and caring. It’s the foreboding moments of Nanny that allow the performance to translate into something tremendous. Whereas when the film is leaning heavily into its horror, Diop is carrying the attention.

Where Jusu’s film succeeds most is in its depiction of an experience that is fragile and traumatic. Horrors come from every angle, not just the supernatural and it’s knowing how easily things can be thrown off-balance that threatens Aisha daily. The film’s conclusion puts a fine point on a harrowing journey, emphasizing that both Jusu and Diop are a force to be reckoned with. For every minor quibble with Nanny there are a million reasons to fall down its rabbit hole of an experience and its unparalleled vision is the greatest reason of them all.

The 2022 Sundance Film Festival will be held January 20-30 online and on Satellite Screens across the United States. For more info, please visit the official website.

Written By

Chris is a graduate of Communications from Simon Fraser University and resides in Victoria, British Columbia. Given a pint, he will talk for days about action films, video games, and the works of John Carpenter.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Facebook

Trending

Beyond The Black Rainbow – Austere, Cerebral, and Sometimes Maddening

Film

50 Best HBO Shows of All Time 50 Best HBO Shows of All Time

50 Best HBO Shows of All Time (Part 2)

Culture

Oz Pilot The Routine review Oz Pilot The Routine review

Oz: Revisiting the Pilot Episode of HBO’s Darkest Show

TV

50 Best HBO Shows of All Time 50 Best HBO Shows of All Time

50 Best HBO Shows of All Time (Part 1)

TV

The Shield TV Pilot Marked the Start of the Golden Age for television The Shield TV Pilot Marked the Start of the Golden Age for television

The Shield TV Pilot Marked the Start of the Golden Age of Television

TV

Star Wars Lightsaber Duels Ranked Star Wars Lightsaber Duels Ranked

15 Best Star Wars Lightsaber Duels Ranked

Film

The Wire Season 1 and 2 The Wire Season 1 and 2

20 Years Later, The Wire’s Genre Filmmaking is Still Unmatched (Part 1)

TV

Best of the Wire Best of the Wire

The Best of The Wire: A Superlative List

TV

Apple TV+’s The Big Conn is a Compelling but Overlong True Crime Series  

TV

We Own This City: Why You Should Be Watching the Anticipated Spiritual Sequel to The Wire

Culture

Jerry West and Mob Hits: HBO’s Winning Time and What Really Happened

TV

The Wire Season 3 The Wire Season 3

20 Years Later, The Wire’s Genre Filmmaking is Still Unmatched (Part 2)

TV

The Fifth Element retrospective The Fifth Element retrospective

The Fifth Element 25 Years Later: Still One of the Greatest Space Operas Ever

Film

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness review Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness review

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a Multiverse Muddle 

Film

best and worst of Star Trek best and worst of Star Trek

The Best and Worst of Star Trek

TV

Ranking Mission Impossible Ranking Mission Impossible

The Definitive Ranking of the Mission: Impossible Series

Film

Connect