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article imageReview: ‘Tully’ is an honest portrayal of the complexities of womanhood Special

By Sarah Gopaul     May 12, 2018 in Entertainment
‘Tully’ is a genuine portrayal of how overwhelming life can be and is elevated by Charlize Theron’s outstanding performance.
Being a hundred different things to multiple people without ever finding time for yourself is exhausting, particularly when “just say no” isn’t an option. It can also be incredibly unhealthy, certainly mentally but also physically. People spread themselves too thin all the time, but doing it for a prolonged period is where the danger lies. Sometimes finding help is the answer, if you can afford it and relinquish control to some degree to another person. In Tully, a mother being crushed by the added responsibility of a third child agrees to hire a night nanny to relieve some of the stress.
Marlo (Charlize Theron) loves her family, but having a third child was never in the cards — especially since her son requires additional attention and her husband (Ron Livingston) works long hours. In order to help lighten the load, Marlo’s brother (Mark Duplass) offers an unconventional baby gift: a night-time nanny service. Marlo is hesitant to allow another person to care for her newborn, but after more than a week of no sleep or even a second to herself, she makes the call. Tully (Mackenzie Davis) is a godsend and Marlo has never felt more invigorated… but her newfound freedom is also leading to some unexpected self-discovery.
Director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody once again team-up to tell the third story in their unofficial coming-of-age trilogy, pairing with Theron for the second time. The characters they create are innately imperfect and, in spite of unavoidably witty dialogue, are people to whom viewers can relate. Regardless of how tired Marlo is, she always has a clever retort — particularly when it comes to motherhood and her family. This movie’s depiction of a woman on the verge of burnout feels both miserable and authentic, which is a direct result of the efforts of the collaborating trio.
Although Marlo would never give up her family, a run-in with an old friend causes her to reflect on her “used to be cool” status and whether any part of that cooler woman still exists. Tully also reminds Marlo of her younger self, but while one makes her depressed the other encourages her to be her best self now. It’s almost a miracle what more sleep can accomplish, as well as a twilight nymph that sneaks in nightly and cleans and bakes while you rest. Marlo’s husband doesn’t even need to meet Tully to be in awe of the positive affect her employment has had on his wife, though they do have one curious encounter.
Theron and Davis are a fantastic pair and it’s easy to watch them together on screen. Theron replaces her chiseled assassin figure with a less toned physique, but that’s overshadowed by her excellent portrayal of a woman who experiences extreme highs and lows throughout the picture — it would be great to see her in more of these dramedy-type roles. Davis, on the other hand, is a ball of unique energy that utterly complements Theron. Moreover, in spite of the initial awkwardness of their introduction, she brings calmness and confidence to the situation.
For the most part, the narrative doesn’t appear to have any grandiose meaning – except maybe a message to not try to do and be everything — it’s simply the story of a mother and the bond she forms with her nanny… and simple, in this instance, is good. But in the final 10 minutes, they decide to turn this uncomplicated yet enjoyable tale on its head; and even though one can see why they did it, it still feels unnecessary and, in some way, ruins the experience just a little.
Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis and Ron Livingston
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