Movie Review – Tully

by Paul Preston
The Movie Guys

Juno’s director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody return to the complicated world of motherhood with their new film Tully. Whereas the character Juno was wisecracking (with surprising heart), it’s clear from the beginning of Tully that main character Marlo has a LOT more going on, and we’re not going to have a joke-filled jaunt to witness her deal with it.


Marlo has two kids, one considered “quirky” by a school that is done catering to his eccentricities, and another who’s asthmatic, while a third kid is on the way. She gets little help from her husband, a nice guy who is unfortunately preoccupied with video games, while her rich brother wants to help, but there’s little common ground they share. Her brother eventually hires a night nanny named Tully to help Marlo cope with her complex life.

Because this is Diablo Cody, you needn’t fear that this film is an entirely depressing look at a harried mom, there are enough witty moments and laughs borne from honesty to carry Tully as good entertainment. The film wins for not shying away from its deep dive into (although the film doesn’t use the words) postpartum depression. There are so many responsibilities that take over your life as a mother of three that the film needs to employee a montage to show the relentlessness them all.


Tully gets its title from the name of the night nanny who comes to help (rescue) Marlo. She’s the anti-Marlo – unbound by responsibility, sexually free and loose with her career and as a result, Marlo is transfixed by her. Unknown to me before now, Mackenzie Davis is a wistful spirit as Tully. Unfazed by the problems that compound Marlo’s life, Davis is captivating to both Marlo and the audience. But who exactly is she outside of what she lets Marlo know? The answer is much of what makes the film’s closing argument, which it drives home with mixed results. But the skill of the story and actors up to then keep the whole project on track.

This film is a return to form for Reitman, whose Labor Day was stuck in a bit of melodrama and whose Men, Women and Children largely went unseen. Reitman and Cody (who also collaborated on Young Adult) wisely teem every scene of Tully with difficulty, mostly coming from the character’s confrontation with the choices they’ve made in life and the struggle to maintain or recapture youth (this goes for both Marlo and Mavis in Young Adult). Sometimes, the question marks in their life appear in physical form, such as when Marlo meets an old roommate who seems to have a carefree life, while Marlo is clearly STRUGGLING to get through a trip to a coffee shop.

Charlize Theron continues to be one of Hollywood’s more versatile actresses. Take this, Mad Max: Fury Road and Atomic Blonde and you’ve got yourself and eclectic triple feature of Theron screen performances. Good to see Theron’s Oscar wasn’t a one-off risk-taking fluke, she continues to stretch herself to rewarding results.
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Release Date: May 4, 2018
Run Time: 95 Minutes
Rated: R
Country: USA
Distributor: Focus Features

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