28 August 2007

Review: The Nanny Diaries


Genre: Drama / Faux Fairy Tale

Filling this year's slot formerly occupied by The Devil Wears Prada, The Nanny Diaries unfortunately fails to be as flush as its predecessor, professing empty orisons and unfulfilled arcs to the dim theater. While it begins steadily enough, quietly displaying glass panes to separate and spilling out anthropological credentials like a new college-graduate keen on self-validation, it fails to recognize even its own good points and carry them through, a remission that would have otherwise provided a much tighter correspondence of audience with characters and meta-consciousness with acting consciousness. It also, despite the possession of several nimble actors, fails to make proper or adequate usage of any of them, with the possible exception of one scene of Ms. Linney, though altogether, I must say, her character was not pushed hard enough.
Furthermore, in a movie with the particular potential for stunning visuals, it is significantly tragic that its cinematography was so utterly daft. Cinematographer, back the fuck up - seriously, I kid not: Your work would have been at least some few notches better, if you had just stepped back a good ten feet from every one of your shots and thought about them. I mean, you're trying to uphold the cold isolation that practically composed all of your film's characters, right? So, why why why did you choose to pull warm, tight close-up shots on practically all of them (save one absolutely beautiful shot [when Mrs. X confronts Nanny in her bedroom about a discovered negligee] that I'm sure was sheer accident]?
Ugh, but this lack of 20/20 on the part of the D. P. was not the worst part of The Nanny Diaries; no, the worst part for me was that its screenplay's ending seemed to do nothing but uphold the another permutation born from the same destructive pretexts that its characters are supposed to have learned to avoid. (The beautiful) Ms. Johannson's character does not seem to take heed that, as she even says, money and status are not guarantees of happiness, or of certitude. Instead, she blindly goes on, into the arms of the awaiting, slightly pompous, and definitely man-candy - "Harvard hottie"? I mean, come on - prince of this faux fairy tale. What is the audience supposed to take away from this absurd deus-ex-machina solution to her woes? That the pernicious pitfalls of wealth and of a socially approved life are viable with the correct antidote of a passing attraction to an Ivy-Leaguer whose Brite Smile for a minute at least gives the impression that he'll in twenty years still actually give a shit? That long sought-after complete independence of a woman in today's world can mean surrendering to the twisted (nevertheless) ideal of an inflated, cocksure 'Aber-zombie' with the dough to back her up, all with the quick blessing justification to herself that she knows better and therefore what she's doing is, not only OK, but correct? Or is it merely that good looks with a splash of charm always make the best cocktail, regardless of the cost? At least The Devil Wears Prada knew what it wanted to say.

Grade: C- / D+ (i. e., "Try again.")

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