The super team of Jason Reitman (Up in the Air, The Front Runner), Diablo Cody (Young Adult, Juno) and Charlize Theron (Monster, Mad Max: Fury Road) are back together again. Having worked together previously on the underappreciated Young Adult they have continued their winning ways with Tully, a film about motherhood. Now some of you might be rolling your eyes thinking “oh no, not another film about motherhood”, but this is motherhood from a realistic angle. An angle so real and raw that I had to reach out while watching the film and telling several mothers I know that I am even more impressed at what they do managing their family and raising kids.
Shortly after having her third child Marlo (Charlize Theron) is drowning. Drowning due to having to do too much, lack of sleep and not having any ‘Me’ time to speak of. Her husband Drew (Ron Livingston – The Conjuring, Office Space), while loving, is rather clueless about her situation. At a dinner at her brother’s (Mark Duplass – from television’s The Mindy Project) house he and his wife (Elaine Tan – Inherent Vice) strongly suggest that Marlo hires a night nanny to give herself a break.
Initially, Marlo dismisses it as it seems extravagant and she is too busy with family stuff and trying to find her autistic son (Asher Miles Fallica – Driven) the right school. Then one evening she opens the door and Tully (Mackenzie Davis – The Martian, Blade Runner 2049) is there. Tully is a young and very self assured woman who is there as her night nanny. Marlo is not so sure about having a stranger in her house, but so tired and wanting a good night’s sleep, gives in.
Inch by inch, hour by hour, Tully becomes more and more vital to Marlo and they form a strong bond. The two begin to spend more time together talking. A friendship blossoms. It peaks with an evening out on the town dancing and drinking. It is the beginning of the end for the two.
No one involved in this film was going for entertainment value. They were all looking to bring to the screen a slice of motherhood that has never been portrayed. A more realistic one. Not all the hearts and flowers that television and movies usually makes it seem like. That is without seeming whiny or complaining. Theron was obviously fully committed to that as she had to gain 50 pounds to play Marlo. She turns in her usual solid, committed performance. A nice chemistry happens with her and the young Davis.
Props to both Reitman and Cody for managing to keep us wondering what will be coming next and on a couple of occasions totally surprising us. Twists are tricky things. Films that are too straight forward are criticized for just that. Ones that insert a twist or two get dragged over the coals by jaded moviegoers. It like a no win, no win situation. Cody was brave enough to try it here and Reitman had just the right touch to make them work.
A film like this is not going to make anyone in their right mind out there run out and become a mother. It is that realistic. Showing motherhood in all its guts and glory. It is hard…stressful…and, at times, verges on impossible. Yet it is not totally dark or dreary. There is still a silver lining of hope there. Anyone who has kids will totally relate to much of it. Most important it will have you thinking about things it brought up long after seeing it.
-The Relationships of Tully