In search of some light entertainment, I hit upon The Nanny Diaries from back in 2007. The film stars Scarlett Johansson as a smart young woman taking some time off from her life post college to work as a nanny for a family in Manhattan.
I was intrigued by the opening, which featured scenes ostensibly taken from the American Museum of Natural History. Various life size dioramas show families throughout history. This sets the scene for a comedy right off the bat. Annie Braddock (Scarlett Johansson) majored in anthropology, and sees this stint as a nanny as research, or at least that is how the movie progresses, her reflections as an anthropologist peppering the story line.
Mrs. X (Laura Linney) and Mr. X (Paul Giamatti) are a couple clearly not suited to each other. They have one son, Grayer (Nicholas Art), whom Annie quickly becomes attached to as she works day in and day out as his nanny. There is a little romance for Annie in the person of a young man referred to as Harvard Hottie (Chris Evans), who is a tenant in the building where Annie works.
Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, both former nannies, wrote the novel The Nanny Diaries that I have not read. It must be a scathing tale on the escapades of the very rich who farm out their kids to other people to raise.
I never could understand why a woman would choose to have a baby and then just turn it over to someone else to raise. Lots of cultures apparently do this, some out of necessity, as the mother needs to work outside the home for income, but others because they apparently have “better” things to do with their time than mind their own children.
Mrs. X is the latter, and it is not flattering. Paul Giamatti as her husband has nothing redeeming about him physically, or as husband material. The only one who seems to have it together is Annie. A caring, smart woman, who becomes so attached to Grayer that she cannot quit even when she finds that her life is no longer her own.
The Nanny Diaries reminded me of The Help in some ways. They are both peeks into two different cultures that give their children to others to be cared for. The Help was excellent in portraying the culture of African-American nannies caring for white children in the Deep South, who were probably even more taken for granted and underpaid than Annie appears to be.
I wonder about the book the screenplay was based on, and may look it up. I hope it is in the same format, kind of like a thesis on the phenomenon of child rearing among the upper class.
The film is rated PG-13 for language. And goes along with lots of comedy in between some really touching moments between Annie and Grayer. It’s a good film for some evening when you just want to relax, laugh, and not think about anything too serious.