Film Review – Nanny



Immigration can be a nightmare for those willing to risk coming to the United States.  I don’t live in a particularly pro-immigrant state politically, but the talking heads don’t always reflect the majority or all of the opinions.  What is evident is the sacrifice that immigrants are willing to make for money or move to someplace better for their families.  In the case of Aisha (Anna Diop) in Nanny (2022), a woman may leave her child behind in her home country and, in turn, take care of someone else’s child to make money for her child.  Mothers leaving children behind to take care of a child that is not their own is a weird dichotomy to embrace, but hence the immense sacrifice of the immigrant mother to bring her child up in a better world.

Nanny tells such a story with a little bit of a thriller twist.  While Blumhouse produces the film, it is more of a supernatural thriller than including it in the horror genre.  Screenwriter and director Nikyatu Jusu has brought some of her own culture and superstitions or mythology into Aisha’s story, and Jusu’s voice makes the story more authentic and personal.


Aisha is from Senegal and has come to New York City to nanny for a well-off couple and their only child. They live in the type of building with a stately modern lobby with a doorman and an elevator that opens directly into their unit. The kind of place that seems out of reach for the average American, yet Aisha is allowed entrance into this world, albeit only as the hired help.  The child, Rose (Rose Decker), is precocious, but the mother, Amy (Michelle Monaghan), alludes to her needing a therapist and not eating well.  The father, Adam (Morgan Spector), is a talented photographer but is mostly absent from Rose and Amy’s life.  The addition of Aisha to the household immediately bears fruit as her rapport and connection with Rose is apparent.  While the job seems to be a blessing, Aisha is working such a job to earn money to bring her son Lamine (Jahleel Kamara) to the U.S.  Aisha is a single mom and has entrusted her son’s care to a friend in Senegal until enough money is earned to be able to be reunited with Lamine.

This dream job starts to sour as Amy becomes a bit unhinged. Facetiming and talking with Lamine doesn’t happen, and Aisha starts having visions.  These visions are disturbing to Aisha and are accounting for lost time and doing things unlike herself.  These visions sometimes include a mermaid or siren, and not the type that is singing songs and wearing clamshell tops.  This siren is foreboding and not taken well.  Aisha gravitates to this being, no matter how much she resists.  It is affecting her thoughts and her ability to be present with Rose or just on her own.  As Rose’s home becomes more toxic and unwelcoming, the visions increase in intensity.

While Aisha’s story goes from hopeful to dreadful, the film itself never loses its beauty.  The lighting and cinematography of Nanny are rich, warm, and welcoming, making the beautiful and elegant Anna Diop even more so if that is even humanly possible.  It is juxtaposed with some scenes in the glaring daylight, walking amongst the city’s tall buildings and bustling traffic.


Water is also a commonly used element in the film.  It reminds Aisha of the ocean at home and Lamine playing in the water.  In New York, she is still drawn to water, but it holds a terrifying siren.  Water continues to envelop Aisha, drowning her and dragging her down in her visions.

Aisha struggles to comprehend what is happening to her.  She believes she is going mad and cannot be trusted to care for a child, even though Rose is probably one of the only bright lights as Aisha succumbs to the darkness.  The ultimate reason Aisha is experiencing these delusions is explained in the end and makes the audience question what these lapses in time and the siren were ultimately doing with or to Aisha.  Jusu intricately weaved a tale that may be similar to other films, but not in its main character or her culture’s beliefs in mythical creatures being a significant component of Jusu’s storytelling.  Nanny explores what is lost when someone emigrates to a faraway country, the sacrifices made, and what is left behind.




Sarah resides in Dallas where she writes about films and trailers in her spare time when she is not taking care of her animals at the zoo.

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