Top critical review
on 10 July 2010
Many of the best aspects of the book, in particular the narrator's sense of anger at her employers, embarrassment at her fish-out-of-water position and love for her charge, are rather difficult to transfer effectively to the big screen. The scriptwriters do their best, but ultimately this is a rom-com with elements of social-class based comedy, rather than the hard-hitting social commentary that is the original book. The main story arc is relatively uninspiring: nanny (Scarlett Johansson) meets nice upper-class boy in compromised situation, but despite her situation worsening, their relationship grows. Meanwhile, she grows much more fond than she had expected of her charge. Of course, in keeping with the usual plan, he is initially obnoxious, but responds to the love shown by nanny to become cute and adorable etc etc (though still quite annoying, and with moments of rather dubious acting). All fairly standard. What rescues this film from total mediocrity is the terrific performance of the grotesque parents, Mr and Mrs X, by Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney. Giamatti is woefully underused, but exactly portrays the sleaze and moral depravity of the upper echelons of the corporate and finance world. Everything he says makes your toes curl. Linney simply steals the film. Every scene she's in works: she's cold, icy, of course an enormous snob, but somehow you end up feeling more pleased about her redemption than about any other aspect of the finale. Her facial expression when Nanny orders a burger at a posh restaurant is just amazing. She's just utterly convincing: it would have been so easy to overplay her role, but she makes it so natural. Overall, fairly mainstream stuff, but worth it for Linney and Giamatti.