Tully marks the third time that director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody have collaborated to make an incredibly heartfelt, funny yet earnest film that’s grounded in reality with no fear of bluntly showing how hard life can be and how the decisions we make help define who we are as people moving forward. Tully may be their most honest works yet, and it’s highlighted by the captivating work by its leading lady, Charlize Theron.
Theron plays Marlo, an expectant mother that’s about to burst who’s already got her plate full with two young kids: Jonah (Asher Miles Fallica), her young son with special needs who’s having behavioral problems at school and her daughter, Sarah (Lia Frankland), who’s beginning to have self-esteem issues. Her husband Drew (Ron Livingston) is busy working to get a promotion at work, and day by day while she tries to hold it together, it’s clear that she’s beginning to crack. This is why her wealthy brother Craig (Mark Duplass) gets her a night nanny for when the baby is born. The idea is that the nanny comes at night to take care of the baby so the parents can sleep, only to be woken up when the baby needs feeding.
While Marlo initially scoffs at the idea, shortly after she gives birth she realizes that everything is getting to be too much. After suffering from postpartum depression after having Jonah, Marlo decides the help couldn’t hurt and calls the service. Enter Tully. Tully is played splendidly by the vibrant Mackenzie Davis, who shows up like a knight in shining armor to not only help Marlo with her newborn, but also help her sort herself out at this trying time in life.
When it comes to making a character driven film you can’t really get someone better than Jason Reitman to bring it to life. While the above statement of Tully showing up like a knight in shining armor makes the movie sound like a fairy-tale, where Tully arrives like Mary Poppins and magically fixes things, that’s not the case. In fact, some may be turned off by the nanny aspect of the film because not everyone can afford a nanny, so how is that realistic? Well, it’s much more than that, so if that’s the reason you’re thinking of avoiding the film, I urge you to push past it.
This is a movie rooted deep in character, focusing on often shied away from topics such as uncertainty, self-doubt, fear of losing who you are or becoming stagnant, as well as psychological breaking points that will hit home for many who watch it. I don’t have kids (and the raw, honest way the reality of parenthood is depicted in Tully may make some happy they don’t – and others appreciate all the more that they do) but even I found certain aspects of Marlo and Drew’s life to be spot on with things I’ve experienced. It’s a movie that will mean something different to all who watch it for various reasons, and that’s greatly in part with how masterful Reitman is at making a movie come off as though you’re watching an actual condensed version of someone’s life.
Of course, that can only happen with a magical script that also captures reality and transfers it to the written word. Cody arguably delivers her most genuine work to date here, touching on motherhood, marriage, postpartum depression, getting older and just trying to come to terms with the hand life has dealt you – both good and bad. Her dialogue is sharp and there’s plenty of wit, but the humour is finely balanced throughout so that it strengthens the story as a whole instead of making light of it for the sake of a laugh.
Even with both a strong script and an incredible director, Tully is a movie that simply wouldn’t work without the brilliant Theron carrying the film on her shoulders. This is a movie that you simply can’t see anyone else playing the part and doing it justice the way that she does. I mentioned before that I don’t have kids, so I haven’t experienced dealing with the day to day grind that Marlo goes through; but let me tell you I felt exhausted just watching her because of how real Theron makes this character. Marlo’s tired, she looks like she’s about to pass out at any moment and yet she keeps persevering for her family as best she can, and Theron absolutely takes her work to the next level making sure that all these aspects of Marlo’s life shine through to the viewer.
Her chemistry with Davis is perfect, and the conversations the two characters have come off completely natural, regardless of the topic at hand, making them feel like old friends. They just click and their harmony together helps make the films most important relationship as engaging as it needed to be. Theron and Livingston also have wonderful chemistry, but for different reasons. This is a couple that have been married for years, now have three kids and sometimes find themselves simply going through the motions. This type of relationship isn’t an easy one to portray, but these two nail it, as it’s clear that Marlo and Drew love one another, even if life has caused the flames of desire to dissipate into embers.
Tully is a wonderful film, but one that you need to hand yourself over to for its full 96-minute runtime in order to truly immerse yourself in the magic it has to offer. Don’t be swayed away thinking that this is a movie that only mothers or parents could enjoy because that’s definitely not the case. There are a lot of layers that Cody has woven into Tully, and Reitman and Theron bring it to life in a way that fans of powerful character driven films do not want to miss.
The film looks great, with plenty of scenes taking place with simple indoor lighting, yet nothing ever comes off grainy, muddy or washed out. Everything looks natural, just like the story calls for, and the Blu-ray transfer of the picture handles the transition to the small screen beautifully. On the audio front, the dialogue mix is strong, with no straining to hear words or balancing out the soundtrack and score to find the sweet spot. It all just works, which is always a plus.
The Relationships of Tully – There’s only the one feature on the film that’s 10-minutes in length and focuses on Reitman, Cody, and Theron all talking about bringing the film to life and what made them come on board. It’s a very generic feature, but with it being the only one available here (a commentary track would’ve been fantastic – especially hearing from Theron and her thoughts on certain scenes after the fact) so if you’re a fan of the film you may as well give it a watch.
Universal Pictures Presents Tully. Directed By: Jason Reitman. Written by: Diablo Cody. Starring: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Ron Livingston, Mark Duplass, Asher Miles Fallica, Lia Frankland. Running time: 96 Minutes. Rating: 14A. Released on Blu-ray: July 31, 2018.
Tags: Charlize Theron, Diablo Cody, Jason Reitman, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass, Ron Livingston, Tully