Bridget Jones Meets Mary Poppins in this charming and intelligent satire starring Scarlett Johansson and Laura Linney.
Based on the novel by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus ‘The Nanny Diaries’ stars Johansson plays Annie Braddock, a young working class girl from the wrong side of the New York tracks facing pressure from her mother to find a respectable job in the world of business.
A chance meeting leads to her swapping her mother’s gift of a smart business suit for a job as a nanny to one of Manhattan’s wealthy but dysfunctional families.
Along the way she falls for the cute guy upstairs, distances herself from and then grows closer to her friends and deceives her mother into thinking she has the respectable job of she’s always wanted for her.
Although the premise sounds like just another formularic ‘chick flick’ this is actually a very smart observational satire which hits its targets – moms with no jobs yet no time to bring up their kids, wealthy husbands so financially secure that they barely bother to conceal their infidelity and one-time frat boys who fail to grow up – with unerring accuracy,
Using the premise of a narrated anthropology paper the film is able to step slightly outside of reality and so for confidentiality reasons few of the characters have actual names with the parents of Annie’s charge being referred to simply as ‘Mr X’ and ‘Mrs X while’ throughout the film Annie is referred to simply as ‘Nanny’ as sign of her employer’s lack of interest in her as another other than a dumping ground for their ‘under achieving’ child.
Laura Linney’s Mrs. X is a scene stealing turn which can’t help but invite comparisons with Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly in last year’s ‘The Devil Wears Prada’.
There are some genuine laugh out loud moments and directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini give the film an almost unreal high gloss feel which accentuates the ‘have it all’ lives of the Manhattan rich set. New York looks sumptuous and the feel the movie invites comparisons with Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Despite the 105 minute running time the film felt slightly short and it would have nice to see more of some of the supporting cast especially Alicia Keys as Annie’s friend Lynette and her roommate Calvin (Nathan Corddry, currently on More 4 in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip).
Never likely to be a surprise, the ending nevertheless brings a certain satisfaction with all those deserving one facing a bright and happy future.
The Nanny Diaries opens at cinemas across the UK on October 12th.
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