6.7/10
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The Nanny (1999)

La balia (original title)
Rome, early 20th century: a wealthy psychiatrist, who runs an asylum for women and lacks imagination in his practice, must find a wet nurse for his infant when his wife panics after ... See full summary »

Director:

Marco Bellocchio

Writers:

Luigi Pirandello (novel), Marco Bellocchio (story and screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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8 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Fabrizio Bentivoglio ... Prof. Mori
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi ... Vittoria Mori
Maya Sansa ... Annetta
Jacqueline Lustig Jacqueline Lustig ... Maddalena
Pier Giorgio Bellocchio ... Nardi
Gisella Burinato Gisella Burinato
Elda Alvigini Elda Alvigini ... Lena
Eleonora Danco Eleonora Danco ... Patient
Fabio Camilli Fabio Camilli ... Broker
Michele Placido ... Belli Estate Patient
Alessandra Bacialupi Alessandra Bacialupi
Letizia Bellocchio Letizia Bellocchio
Maria Luisa Bellocchio Maria Luisa Bellocchio
Anna Maria Calvelli Anna Maria Calvelli
Francesca Calvelli Francesca Calvelli
Edit

Storyline

Rome, early 20th century: a wealthy psychiatrist, who runs an asylum for women and lacks imagination in his practice, must find a wet nurse for his infant when his wife panics after childbirth. He brings a peasant, Annette, to Rome, forcing her to leave her own baby behind. To the consternation and increasing anger of the wife, the nanny immediately bonds with the couple's infant son - Annette's a natural. Against a backdrop of leftist demonstrations, Annette, who's lover is a teacher jailed for subversion, asks the doctor to teach her to read and write. Her nature and curiosity, the doctor's bland ideas, he and his wife's problems, and the two infants bring the story to a head. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

wet nurse | nanny | based on novel | See All (3) »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Istituto Luce

Country:

Italy

Language:

Italian

Release Date:

21 May 1999 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

La balia See more »

Filming Locations:

Frascati, Rome, Lazio, Italy

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Connections

Edited into Sorelle (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

Gripping in the understated sense of the word
24 August 2000 | by eliane-4See all my reviews

Lovers of Hollywood blockbusters beware: 'La Balia' is a distinctly European film, and an old-fashioned one at that. This is not to say it's a bad film. Quite on the contrary; it's excellent. It's slow-paced without being long-winded, subtle without being elitist, understated without being incomprehensible, and ever so elegant. This is particularly true for the love scene that highlights the final third of the film. No gratuitous nudity and full-on sex in this film; instead you get an older man teaching his uneducated wet nurse how to write and looking at the way she holds her pen in a way that just sizzles with passion. It's an old-fashioned way of depicting lust, but it's more erotic than any 'steaming' sex scene Hollywood could concoct. And that's just one of the many instances of understatement that make this film so impressive.

The acting, too, is top-notch - subtle but ever so effective. None of the three leading characters (the doctor, his wife, and their wet nurse) undergoes much development, but somehow the actors (particularly Valeria Bruni Tedeschi as the frigid wife with the smouldering passion underneath) give one the impression they do. It's an achievement not to be underestimated.

Of course there are things the makers of this film could learn from Hollywood, one of them being how to use lamps. The first few minutes of the film are so dark (one can barely see facial expressions) it makes one wish the job had been done by a Hollywood crew. Once one gets into the story, however, the natural light and gaslight become a part of the experience, making for an authentic nineteenth-century Italian atmosphere. And then some.

Highly recommended to those who like subtle-but-easy-to-follow arthouse films.


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