Nanny Review and Ending Explained – Nikyatu Jusu’s Debut is Anchored by Good Visual Storytelling and a Strong Anna Diop

By Jacob Throneberry
Published: December 15, 2022 (Last updated: last month)
Nanny Review and Ending Explained
Nanny (2022) (Credit - Amazon Prime Video)


An immigrant nanny looks after the child of a wealthy Upper East Side couple.

For a lot of people, the American dream is an idea that is as relevant now as it was almost one hundred years ago. Built on the concept of freedom and prosperity, this idea is what draws many people from other countries to America in hopes of a new life. However, for most of the people with this plan, upon arrival, they realize that the American dream isn’t quite what they might have expected, and in some cases, it is more of an American nightmare.

Nanny Review and Plot Summary

This is the case for Aisha (Anna Diop) who left Senegal in hopes of a better life. She is trying to save up just enough money to be able to bring her son to America from Senegal and takes on a nanny job for a wealthy white couple, Amy (Michelle Monaghan) and Adam (Morgan Spector), to look after their daughter Rose (Rose Decker). Throughout the film, Aisha has visions that haunt her wherever she goes.

Clearly inspired by Ousmane Sembene’s masterpiece Black Girl, Aisha follows a similar path in this movie. She is an immigrant, which is something Adam embraces as he makes a living off black culture, more specifically photographing black activists — when he first is introduced to the film he mentions that he was in France covering a police brutality rally.

However, it is something that Amy clearly rejects: she tries to put Aisha in “high class” clothing, she scolds Aisha for feeding her daughter jollof rice, and she refuses to pay her what she is owed because she knows there isn’t much Aisha can do about it.

This is where Anna Diop, who is best known for her role as Starfire on HBO Max‘s Titans, truly excels. Aisha knows her worth and isn’t afraid to ask for it — she corrects Amy multiple times when it comes to the rate they discussed — and the confidence she has in herself and her situation shines through when Aisha needs it to.

However, the great part of Diop’s performance is displaying the toll that this life is taking on her as well. Aisha is a motherly figure to Rose, even more of a motherly figure than Amy is, but has to sacrifice being a mom to her own son Lamine, who is about to celebrate his seventh birthday.

Rose gets the cooking, the stories, and the playtime, and Lamine is stuck only to a few fleeting moments on the phone. This tears at Aisha, and seeing the longing that Diop gives this character allows you to understand where her confidence in difficult situations comes from.

Nanny is a great directorial debut by Nikyatu Jusu

In her feature directorial debut, Nikyatu Jusu, who also writes the script, is visually and symbolically potent. The visions Aisha has are disturbing, but they are a window into how she feels being in this situation, how she feels trapped in this world, constantly hoping for the best but ultimately drowning in it. It’s a true visual achievement that shows great promise for Jusu’s future as a writer/director.

As the end of this movie comes around, some choices are made, and not all of them work. Some of the same elements that excelled in the front half can become a bit repetitive, but where this story eventually goes does end on an emotional one. Aisha is having to live with the decision that she made that she ultimately thought was best, and the consequences that came from it.

Nikyata Jusu’s film debut, Nanny, is anchored by good visual storytelling and a strong Anna Diop. The American Dream is a beacon of hope for so many people, but as the beacon gets closer a true nightmare ensues.

Nanny Ending Explained – What Happens to Aisha?

Nanny (Credit – Amazon Prime Video)

Throughout the film, Aisha has many different visions which cause her to see things that aren’t really there. After one of these spells, Aisha almost kills Rose in the bathtub. Luckily, she is brought back right before, drops the knife, and takes Rose to bed.

Aisha apologizes to Rose, to which Rose tells her that her son Lamine caused her to do it out of jealousy. Aisha asks Rose why she would say that, and Rose turns over, not saying another word to her.

As we know throughout the film, Lamine, who is about to turn seven, is still living in Senegal and Aisha is trying to save up the money to be able to bring her son to America. She hasn’t seen her son in quite some time, but her maternal instincts never left her as she treats Rose in a motherly way, something that Lamine is missing out on.

She is personal with Rose, feeding her African dishes and telling her African folk stories, and her relationship with Lamine has devolved into phone calls and messages.

When she finally is paid the money she is owed for working overtime, she has enough to bring her son and her Aunt to America, but while waiting for them at the airport, neither of them steps off the plane.

After a few moments, Aisha calls her Aunt and finds her alone, without Lamine. Her Aunt goes on to tell Aisha how Lamine was at the beach and got trapped under the waves, eventually drowning. Riddled with grief, the end of this movie finds Aisha on the docks at a river in New York right before she jumps in and starts to drown, only to be rescued right before death.

Water symbolism can be found all throughout this film. Whether it is Aisha drowning in her work or in her personal life, she is constantly gasping for air hoping to breathe. When she jumps in the water, it seems as though it is an attempt to drown herself and let the pain and pressure of everything that has happened to her fully engulf her, but it also could just be a way to feel what her son had to endure without her.

Over the course of the film, she spent time looking after someone else’s kid and not her own in hopes that one day she would be able to have her son back. As she is in the water she looks up and sees a vision of Lamine. A mermaid that has been seen throughout the film in a menacing light is now fully realized.

This mermaid was never trying to hurt Aisha, but instead was serving as a warning. In this sequence, the mermaid helps Aisha to the surface which raises the question of whether is she still warning Aisha or is she actually the menacing creature she seems to be and is guiding Aisha to further doom.

While she may still be alive, this is not a happy ending for her as even though she lives and now has a chance with Malik and his son, the presence of Lamine and the mother she couldn’t be for him will always hang over; this is the cost of the American dream.

How the hope one carries can be completely stripped away in an instant, and there is nothing one can do about it. She tried to be the best mom she could for Lamine, and even if she truly believed this was the best way for him to have a better life, the price she had to pay for this sliver of hope is what will ultimately cause her a lifetime of grief.

What did you think of Nanny (2022)? Comment below.

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