Holland, 1972. To pay the rent, a young Jewish student protester (Fraser, effervescent) reluctantly takes a job as nanny with a Hassidic family and falls in love with their hitherto silent five-year-old son (Monty). She stays on for the boy's sake despite battling with the paterfamilias Mr Kalman (Krabbé) and the apartrment's sneering janitor. As director, Krabbé refrains from giving the ever-darkening tale a portentous air. Furthermore, he shows a sure hand with the actors: coaching Rossellini to reveal a quietly humane, unglamorous stoicism as Mrs Kalman; keeping the freshness in Fraser's performance; and teasing fine cameos from Topol, as the girl's wise, reassuring friend Apfelschnitt. The trouble lies with the script (from Carl Friedman's novel The Shovel and the Loom), which propels the story like a fizzling three-stage rocket. It begins jauntily as a study of a young woman's search for self, before occupying itself with the relationship between the nanny and the sealed-off boy, and finally mutates into an examination of the divided wings within Jewry, using tragic events as a reminder of the shared history of suffering.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Edwin de Vries|