Nanny Diaries (2007)

The Nanny Diaries is a look at the high society of Manhattan's upper East Side. Starring Scarlett Johansson, and Laura Linney, it is an adaptation of the book of the same name. The book was written by Emma McLaughlin, and Nicola Kraus, both of whom worked as nannies to subsidize the cost of their NYU education.

In the film, Johansson plays Annie Braddock, a recently graduated business major with a minor in anthropology that has been pushed by her mother to go into corporate America. After "choking" on her Goldman Sachs interview, she decides to take it down a notch, have a rest, and becomes a nanny for the summer. While the money is initially good, the child's mother, known only as Mrs. X (Linney), and the child, Grayer, torture her to the point that she just can't take it anymore. While over time she bonds with the child, an episode that occurs with Mr. X serves as the catalyst for a new direction in Braddock's career direction.

The Nanny Diaries is cleverly told. There is a shell story of an anthropologist going undercover to study NYC's elite, complete with the dioramas at the Museum of Natural History depicting fathers golfing, and mothers shopping. There is also plenty of anthropology lingo, such as field guide entries, and "going native." Underneath this however, is some significant social commentary. Unfortunately, many of these nannies are exploited people that are cheap labor to Manhattan's richest. They get little to no time off, and sometimes are not even paid the agreed upon wages. Also disturbing is that the parents of these children, as exemplified by the father, Mr. X in the film, have no interest in parenting. They have children to fulfill a social obligation, but have no interest in raising a family- clearly a sad social commentary.

On a simpler level, The Nanny Diaries is the story of Annie Braddock, and her first job. Along the lines of The Devil Wears Prada, she is given task after task, which turn into a series of tests whether she will break or not- all with little or no reward. At the end of the film, they even short change her out of her pay!

Overall, I liked The Nanny Diaries quite well. It was well paced, well acted, and the screenplay was well done. If you missed it in theaters this summer, catch it on video, and don't miss the interview with the book authors in the bonus features.

Overall Grade: A

Reviewed by Jonas

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