Cast: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass, Ron Livingston
Director: Jason Reitman
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: A new comedy from Academy Award (R)-nominated director Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air”) and Academy Award (R)-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (“Juno”). Marlo (Academy Award (R) winner Charlize Theron), a mother of three including a newborn, is gifted a night nanny by her brother (Mark Duplass). Hesitant to the extravagance at first, Marlo comes to form a unique bond with the thoughtful, surprising, and sometimes challenging young nanny named Tully (Mackenzie Davis).
To be completely honest, when I got out of my screening of Tully, I left kind of confused and had a lot of questions about what I had just seen. The more and more I thought about it though, the more I started to believe that this was the intention of the film. It is not supposed to tell a straightforward, concise story, but rather a raw, bitter reality that more mothers than I probably know face on a daily basis. Fueled by a sharp performance by Theron and an incredibly strong script by Diablo Cody, Tully takes a story we have probably seen many times before and frames it into a unique dark comedy.
The film follows Marlo (Theron), a mother of three young children who starts to feel lost in the world and that her children’s lives have overshadowed hers. To help her get some must-needed rest, Marlo’s brother Craig (Duplass) hires her a night nanny to help her take care of her newborn child while Marlo sleeps at night. Marlo reluctantly accepts and is introduced to Tully (Davis), the night nanny who not only helps with the house chores, but also helps Marlo with many of her personal problems and the reality she faces. The relationship between Marlo and Tully is not only the main focal point of the film, but also happens to be one of the film’s best parts. These two characters are an excellent foil for one another and show us the impact that age has on our self-perception. Tully is young, vibrant, and innocent, while Marlo is older, more seasoned, and pessimistic of the world around her. The chemistry between Theron and Davis is fantastic and shows the viewers how maybe when we are younger we need to be more realistic, but also that aging is a part of life and there is nothing we can do about it. This chemistry is absolutely helped by yet another incredible script by Diablo Cody. Cody has made a career out of showing people the understated issues that women face in society and combining by writing dialogue dripping with sarcasm and irony and Cody masterfully does it again in Tully. Many of Theron’s lines have these moments of sarcasm that weave through the story naturally and seems to go over some of the characters heads, but when they land they are really funny lines. Shifting over to the director, Reitman does a fantastic job of piecing together a somewhat complicated story and make it understandable to the viewer. If you enjoy symbolism in film, you will be very intrigued about the presence of water throughout the film and how at moments these scenes look like they are pointless, but if you keep with it, you will see that the payoff is worth it. Outside of that, the one thing I particularly enjoyed was how other perspectives are shown regarding relationships between minor characters. One of the best scenes is when Marlo and her husband Drew (Livingston), talk about their relationship with Craig and his family and how Craig hates Drew. In a later scene, Craig and his wife are having an almost identical conversation where Craig thinks that Drew hates him. Not only is this a great display of irony, but I believe it subtly highlights one of the less vocal points of the film. One of the biggest obstacles that we face as people is we are too afraid to communicate our concerns, and if these two families were honest about it, they would not have the problems they think they have. These ideas are present throughout the film from Marlo’s perspective and give us a first-class look at the barrier between the problems of motherhood and the ability to communicate them.
Overall, I believe Tully is the type of movie that I will enjoy better after watching it again. There were probably multiple jokes or moments of foreshadowing that I missed in the theatres and I would like to go back and see if I can point them out on a second viewing. Regardless of what I missed or did not understand about the film, Tully is an intensely emotional piece of reality that made me reflect on the work my mother did when I was growing up. It brings light on to situations that people like myself were not aware of before watching Tully, but I am glad to have learned something from this film.
Overall Score: 8/10