From the duo that brought the critically acclaimed American Splendor (2003) to the big screen, directors Shari Berman and Robert Pulcini take the reins of The Nanny Diaries in this film translation of McLaughlin and Krausâ€™s bestselling novel of the same name.
Capitalizing on the bookâ€™s fame and Americaâ€™s fascination with the monarchal matrons of upper crust society, The Nanny Diaries offers a ruthlessly funny yet humanely tempered look at the life of one Manhattan nanny.
Scarlett Johansson headlines as Annie Braddock, a fresh-out-of-college anthropology major who experiences an identity crisis when trying to enter the professional world. Overwhelmed by her conflicting desires, an overbearing mother (Donna Murphy), and some all-too-familiar financial woes, Annie accepts a nanny position with the Mr. and Mrs. X family (Paul Giamatti & Laura Linney).
At first exhilarated to be living in one of the Big Appleâ€™s Upper East Side apartments, Annie soon gets bogged down with the Xâ€™s young son Grayer (Nicholas Art). Just when she starts to turn a page with the dubious preschooler, however, Mr. and Mrs. Xâ€™s marital problems begin to unravel everything sheâ€™s worked for. While trying to keep up pretenses with her unsuspecting mom, juggle a love interest in the building, and raise Grayer in a fractured home, Annie must choose between her own future and the family she may not be able to save.
Fans of the novel will be pleased to find out that very few alterations have been made from the source material (the name Annie has replaced Nan, Annie has already graduated and is from New Jersey instead of Manhattan, etc). The Mary Poppins motifs and the analytical, case study style of Annieâ€™s observations are all still in the film, giving the movie a down-to-earth, whimsical feel with a Bridget Jones-esque approach to narration (minus the witty brit humor).
For the most part the acting in the film is top notch with outstanding performances given by both Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti. Itâ€™s no surprise that the latter would put on a good show, but just how well Giamatti cloaks himself in the contemptuous skin of a true SOB is downright staggering. Scarlett Johansson did fairly well as Annie, but I didnâ€™t feel her persona meshed well with that of her characterâ€™s. When Annie finally snaps after nearly two hours of being mentally bludgeoned by Mr. and Mrs. X, I was expecting an all-hell-breaks-loose rebuff from one of Hollywoodâ€™s most notorious bad girls. Yet the scene, although satisfying, was much more restrained than I was hoping for and didnâ€™t quite sell. Though to be fair Johanssonâ€™s muted performance might have been delimited more by the scope of her character than by the boundaries of her acting prowess.
Overall the film offers a truthful perspective into the nanny culture of upper class society with some humor added in to offset the painfully realistic problems that afflict more and more modern day households. Although not wholly original, fans of the novel and other similar films like The Devil Wears Prada (2006) wonâ€™t want to miss The Nanny Diaries when it hits theatres April 20th.
Source: World of KJ