A young Senegalese mother, Aisha (Anna Diop), lands a job as a nanny to a wealthy family in New York City. Mom’s a little overbearing—she doesn’t want her daughter to have anything spicy—and Dad is a little too casual. He (Morgan Spector) appears to be a photojournalist; she (Michelle Monaghan) works for some high-profile white-collar firm, and neither seems to like the other. Mom forgets to pay Aisha, Dad makes a pass late one night, but neither is Aisha’s true concern.

Written and directed by Nikyatu Jusu, Nanny starts like a social drama with all the signposts in place until it suddenly shifts into psychological horror. Aisha is working to bring her son to America and tells everyone that’s her plan. They smile and nod, their hearts going out to her, but the face says it all. That kid will never get here, and Aisha is the only one who doesn’t know.

There are other tricksters and elements at work, all intriguing, but none quite melding into a whole. Nanny feels like two movies, both pretty good, but neither wholly convincing. There is promise, though, and with a little luck, Jusu should land a sophomore project.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Nanny (2022)
Written and directed by Nikyatu Jusu
Produced by Nikkia Moulterie, Daniela Taplin Lundberg
Starring: Anna Diop, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Spector, Rose Decker, Sinqua Walls, Leslie Uggams
Amazon Studios, Rated R, Running time 97 minutes, Opens Nov. 23, 2022 in theaters, Dec. 16 on Amazon Prime.

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