By Amanda Gilmore
Writer-Director Nikyatu Jusu’s Feature debut is a heartfelt love letter to immigrant women who sacrifice everything to give their children a better life.
Aisha (Anna Diop), an undocumented Senegalese immigrant, lands a job as a nanny for a wealthy Manhattan couple. As she spends her days taking care of their daughter Rose (Rose Decker), she is haunted by the absence of the young son she had to leave behind in Senegal. Aisha hopes her new job will afford her the chance to bring him to the U.S. and share the life she’s piecing together.
Nanny is a Horror film about the American Dream. However, Jusu has created a film that functions on many levels. It’s a dramatic character study of Aisha while incorporating the genre elements. In doing so, she’s created a wholly unique genre film. Jusu and Diop work seamlessly together to create an empathetic portrait of the immigrant experience. Diop gives a nuanced performance and is a force as Aisha. She evokes the longing, guilt and anger for the life she is living in order to carve out a better one for her son.
Additionally, Nanny excels at showing the essential work these marginalized women perform. Jusu achieves this through the relationship between Rose’s mother Amy (Michelle Monaghan) and Aisha. It’s clear the privileged Amy is able to advance in her career because of the help Aisha provides. In doing this, Jusu shows how these women are essential to the functioning of American society.
Nanny’s genre aspects come from visions Aisha sees both while sleeping and awake. Aisha becomes informed that these visions are magic, however, she doesn’t believe in magic so she ignores their warnings. These moments allow for the horror aspects to come through.
Nanny screens virtually at Sundance:
Premiere: Jan. 22 at 1:45PM EST
Second Screening: Jan. 24 at 10AM EST (available for 24hrs)