Leila Slimani brings to the screen her international bestselling novel Lullaby, directed by Lucie Borleteau. Another case of preferring the film to the novel. I read about half the book, or more, before I stopped reading.
I knew what was going to happen and didn’t particularly like any of the characters. I’ve nothing against books about nannies. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is a classic, none of which of its multiple adaptations as screenplays match the written word, but they remain entertaining. We even get Orson Welles as a gruff Rochester.
Lullaby a simple enough story, an affluent middle-class Parisian couple, hire a nanny, Mila (Assya Da Silva) to take care of their little girl, Sylvie (Noelle Renaude) and little boy, Adam (Calypso Peretjatko [nine months] and Benjamin Patissier [fifteen months]).
Paul (Antoine Reinartz) is a successful music producer. His beautiful wife, Wafa (Rehab Mehal) doesn’t need to work. They’ve got enough money to live on, but she wants to go back to work and kick-start her career. They agree to look for a nanny. To try out a new way of living. If it doesn’t work they can go back to the way it was.
Wafa is a successful, highly educated Parisian, but she’s also regarded as Algerian. Low-paid drudge work is done largely by the immigrant population. An agency boss belittles Algerian nannies and coloured nannies in general. The usual slightly racist stuff about being lazy and late and not being properly French. This makes Wafa uncomfortable.
They are not sure they’ll find a nanny—they can afford. Wafa interviews a few candidates. Mila is the dream candidate. And she’s white.
She wins the job and the kids love her. Their parents like her too. She does everything for them. Not only taking care of the kids but housekeeping and making them healthy meals and snacks when they finish work.
Like me, you’ve probably figured how this is going to go. There’s a slightly loopy bit in Jane Eyre where she runs away into the English wildness, almost marries another man, but keeps her morals and becomes the nineteenth-century equivalent of a millionaire. She hears Rochester’s voice calling to her.
Lullaby doesn’t end with a lullaby. Read the book or watch the film.