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Inconceivable movie review: nanny dearest

MaryAnn’s quick take…
This preposterous, stilted, often hilariously terrible domestic thriller twists maternal yearnings into a toxic parody of femininity.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Thing never to say: “Why don’t you just move into our guest house?” (Assuming you’re stinking filthy rich enough to have a guest house.) Another thing never to say: “You could also be our part-time nanny.” (Assuming you’re stinking filthy rich enough to be able to hire a nanny.) You’d think people in movies would know by now that such offers never end well.

So it is with doctors Brian (Nicolas Cage: Snowden) and Angela (Gina Gershon: P.S. I Love You) when they invite their new friend Katie (Nicky Whelan: The Wedding Ringer) to live in their guest house — with her small daughter Maddie (Sienna Soho Baker) — and to be nanny to their lil tyke Cora (Harlow Bottarini) as they embark upon the unlikely adventure of trying to have another baby… in their 50s. Why is Katie so secretive about her past? Why is she acting so strangely possessive of Cora, to the point of pretending that she is actually Cora’s mother? Why on earth would Brian and Angela agree to let a near-total stranger who sets off so many alarm bells get even more intimately entrenched in their family? (What on earth made Faye Dunaway [The Bye Bye Man] agree to appear in the thankless role of Brian’s scold of a mother?) The answers will startle you only in how preposterous Inconceivable dares to be, to what ridiculous lengths it will go to in its attempts to shock and titillate you.

Unlike domestic thrillers in which the villainy of men (such as stalking and gaslighting) isn’t merely plausible but downright commonplace in reality, this is yet another installment in the “bitches be crazy” subgenre (see also: this year’s Unforgettable) in which a woman can be villainous only by extreme and fantastical extrapolation, by twisting her into a toxic parody of femininity that simply does not exist in real life. And yet all while the film pretends to be genuinely concerned with such serious and complex matters as being a working mom, thwarted maternal yearnings, and coping with late-midlife infertility. Oh yes: the title, Inconceivable, means what you think it means. And where this stilted, often hilariously terrible movie takes that is, well, inconceivable.

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