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Tully (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 11, 2020


TULLY (2018)

Starring Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass, Ron Livingston, Elaine Tan, Lia Frankland, Asher Miles Fallica, Gameela Wright, Tattiawna Jones, Emily Haine, Colleen Wheeler, Maddie Dixon-Poirier, Crystal Lonneberg, Katie Hayashida, Marceline Hugot, Michael Patrick Lane, Elfina Luk, Joshua Pak, Steven Roberts and Candus Churchill.

Screenplay by Diablo Cody.

Directed by Jason Reitman.

Distributed by Focus Features. 96 minutes. Rated R.

My friend and I sat in the emptying theater after watching Tully. We were a little astonished, a little worn, a lot in awe of the smart, thoughtful performance of Charlize Theron. She plays Marlo, a former hipster from Brooklyn, extremely pregnant with her third child. She is given the “present” of a night nanny to alleviate some stress by her well-to-do brother and sister-in-law. While torn with the idea of giving over nighttime responsibilities to a stranger, the fatigue of life takes over and Tully (played by Mackenzie Davis), the night nanny, enters their lives.

First and foremost, Charlize Theron knocked her role out of the park. Forget about the weight gain. Forget about the writing. She captured the spirit, angst, anger, frustration and the fatigue which is being a mother.

All the stuff that is glossed over in most movies with new mothers – it’s in here. She is the cast of Bad Moms without the slapstick, raunchy punch lines. She is the cold, hard reality that makes a mother appreciate her child when they have made a good choice – proof of a legacy after an often-underappreciated job well done. Theron’s performance was moving.

Mackenzie Davis’ Tully is the dream nanny: she comes at night and is there as much for Marlo as she is for the newborn. When Marlo talks about not having the time but wishing to be like the “cupcake moms,” she wakes to find a tray of cupcakes ready for the day. Tully helps to make what could be an uncomfortable situation and time a little easier, helping Marlo feel more at ease in her own skin.

Ron Livingston plays Drew, Marlo’s loving-but-aloof husband, who seems not quite sure how best to fit in to his role as father. Livingston plays the role well and looks at ease spending his evening in bed, headphones on, immersed in his video game evening while Marlo continues to work through the household as day turns to night and back into day.

Tully is the second collaboration for Theron with director Jason Reitman. It is also Reitman’s third film with screenwriter Diablo Cody, who also penned Juno and Young Adult. I rewatched 2011’s Young Adult and could see a lot of similarities in style. However, I am happy to report that the character of Marlo was far more relatable (well, to me anyway) than Young Adult’s jaded Mavis. Both have some uncomfortable moments, but while Mavis is difficult to connect to, Marlo is someone you want to root for and that you hope will succeed.

The writers definitely understood the sacredness of the mother-child bond, the strained-but-loving relationship of a couple when faced with an unplanned third pregnancy, the family tension with an undefined, undiagnosed, great-but-challenging child. Tully confronted many hard truths about motherhood and families. There were so many invisible lines in the sand nearly crossed that left you just uncomfortable enough that you felt relief when those lines were not spanned.

Tully had scenes that left me manically laughing, until I realized that the laughter had morphed into tears – much like parenting in that first few months after birth. Although I sensed the plot twist early on, I look forward to seeing the movie again with a new view and perspective.

Bonnie Paul

Copyright ©2018 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 4, 2018.

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