The Nanny Diaries Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini

The Nanny Diaries Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini

I got more and less than I expected from this bestseller adaptation — though it’s got finer shading than the average film of its kind, there’s still the sense that it isn’t getting everything it should out of the potentially revealing material.

Scarlett Johansson stars as Annie Braddock, a recent college grad who’s unsure of what to do with her life. She thinks that she’ll have time to think when she takes a job as a nanny but she has the misfortune of being hired by the absurdly rich Mr. and Mrs. X (Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney), who treat her like scum and pay almost no attention to their long-suffering five-year-old. As Annie bonds with her charge and experiences the child neglect of wealthy culture, she realises that there are bigger issues at stake than whether or not she can find herself.

To be sure, the film (by the directors of the similarly uneven American Splendor) has its qualities, including a pointedly naturalistic style that mostly tries not to caricature the potentially overblown nature of the Xs and their madness. Still, it doesn’t quite get as deep into class matters as it should. Though a scene where a Jamaican nanny puts the heroine in her place underlines the exploitation of vulnerable people, the film is still mostly devoted to someone who doesn’t come with the economic baggage of the genuine underclass.

As well, the script takes a couple of annoying shortcuts, including love interest Harvard Hottie (Chris Evans), who takes Annie to task for her self-absorption while seeming pretty smug himself. Expect nothing and you might enjoy yourself but be warned: you might leave with a slight sense of dissatisfaction. (Alliance Atlantis)