11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2004
In "La Balia" (The Nanny) Marco Bellocchio, one of the best directors working in Italy explores maternal character. He has done this before throughout his career; however this time the charcaters are different than those he explored in his previous films and "Gli occhi, la bocca" (The Eyes, The Mouth) in particular. The latter film was autobiographical and the director was taking significant risks and he projected himself onto Giovanni, the protagonist. In "The Nanny" the `mother' character study can proceed with more depth, as this time Bellocchio is not encumbered by auto-biographical concerns and is free to take advantage of more opportunities. In a dramatic birth scene the `mother' figure is dismantled into a series of characters, of different gender and social class. Although inspired by the text of Luigi Pirandello, it cannot be said of "The Nanny" that it is a Pirandellian film. The Sicilian writer is more cynical and his short story features a greater dose of evil and pessimism. Bellocchio's characters have been softened through greater complexity; there is more ample room given to the contrast between the world of men and women, wealth and poverty, origins and culture. Overall I enjoyed the film and recognized the culture. Non-Italians will also enjoy the brilliance with which Pirandello's notions - as translated by Bellocchio - can reveal aspects of Sicilian culture that ahve heretofore remained mysterious
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2012
At the turn of the 20th century, a wealthy doctor who specializes in mental health has a child with a wife who goes into a post-partum
depression, and can't feed their newborn son. So he hires a wet nurse, an illiterate, but emotionally intelligent poor woman, who
agrees to leave her own son, fathered by her lover, a communist now in jail, to care for the doctor's boy.
What ensues is a subtle study of how the addition of this woman to the household changes all the dynamics; parental, sexual, emotional.
Intense, but more understated and less theatrical than most of Bellocchio's films, this felt a lot like Bergman to me, with many quiet scenes
relying on close-ups and studying the small changes on human faces that often mean so much. Driven by excellent performances
this is a quietly haunting film.