Nikyatu Jusu’s Nanny is a big ask for a film released on Amazon Prime Video. Running at only 99 minutes, the movie is both a family drama, with the titular Nanny (Anna Diop) being at the center of the friction between the child (Rose Decker) and her parents (Michelle Monaghan and Morgan Spector), and a supernatural horror film, where the Nanny has strange visions that blur her perception of reality and fiction.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t amount to very much, even if the performances keep the film from being a total waste of talent. Diop plays Aisha, a Senegalese-born immigrant who hopes to make enough money as a Nanny to bring her son, Lamine (Jahleel Kamara), to the United States. However, Amy (Monaghan), the mother of Rose (Decker), doesn’t pay her on time and further complicates things when Rose shares affection with Aisha while she becomes distant from her mother.
It’s also a romantic drama, with Aisha meeting Malik (Sinqua Walls) and falling in love with him. Surprisingly, that’s the film’s weakest part because it doesn’t add anything to Aisha’s character and our understanding of what’s truly going on. The strongest element is how the drama builds up between Aisha and Amy, with Diop and Monaghan being the movie’s best parts. Diop, in particular, is a total revelation in a film that solely focuses on her journey and hopes to pursue the American Dream.
That dream is quickly shattered when the distance occurs between her and Amy, but it’s always interesting to see her on screen from beginning to end. Even during scenes where she loses control, and you have no idea what’s going on, Diop emotionally anchors the film to ensure that we’re always invested, or at least partially intrigued, to see what will happen next. The same goes with Monaghan, who is utterly riveting in a scene where she breaks down in front of Diop.
Prime Video’s Nanny movie is underwhelming with a sloppy and jumbled ending
Diop also has an incredible monologue during that scene that exacerbates the tension between the two and makes it feel incredibly authentic. That’s the sign of two great actors giving their all and being directed by someone who knows how to best exploit their emotional powers. It would’ve been a must-see if Nanny solely focused on that family drama that rifts the two protagonists apart.
However, as soon as the movie veers into the supernatural, or, should I say, the surreal, everything becomes jumbled, and not for the better. It’s perhaps too ambitious, never knowing what’s real and what isn’t and consistently shifting how the plot changes in drastic directions that unfortunately go nowhere. I won’t give anything away for those moments because it’s best to see it yourself, but it could be the “make-or-break.” part that boards you further in the film or distances you from the story.
Regardless, Nanny remains an exciting watch. Its lead performances from Anna Diop and Michelle Monaghan are magnifying and hold most of our interest from beginning to end. Unfortunately, it is a bit underwhelming with how it comes together in a sloppy and jumbled ending. Still, its emotional core remains intact if your sole focus is on Diop, who will hopefully become an even bigger star than she is after this.
Nanny is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.