Marlo, played spectacularly by Charlize Theron, is a mother of two, pregnant with her third. She's been through this before and she nonchalantly gives birth to her new “little blessing”. It's hard to take care of one child, especially because her husband Drew (Ron Livingston) is always working on the road, but now Marlo is thrown into the new journey of taking care of an infant and being super mom for her other two children. And so begins the cycle of never sleeping, changing diapers, making lunches for school, driving the kids, breastfeeding, cooking dinners and doing it all over again. Seeing that three kids can be a handful, Marlo's hipster, condescending, and wealthy brother Craig (Mark Duplass) hires a night nurse to ease the stress, but giving in is not something Marlo wants to do, until she hits a breaking point and just can't take it anymore.
Enter Tully (Mackenzie Davis), who arrives as majestically as Marry Poppins, bringing a sense of calm and a much needed break for Marlo. During the childrearing stages, the two develop a beautiful friendship, where the sharing of motherly duties becomes therapeutic for one another. They share deep conversations about love and life expectations; Tully bakes cupcakes in the morning, Marlo is able to get a full night of sleep, and they even find time to sneak out for a relaxing time with drinks and a dip in the hot tub in the yard. Tully is a godsend and finally Marlo can begin to have a bit of sanity back.
Director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody are working together for the third time, in what feels like the final installment to a full-circle, coming-of-age trilogy. Their first film Juno was a sharp, witty look at teenage pregnancy. Young Adult was a brilliant picture of 20-30-something's trying to survive life after their golden years, and now Tully, which is arguably the best of the three, portrays a completely authentic display of motherhood. Reitman's direction, along with Cody's spot-on script, have a complete grasp of how parenting is painfully beautiful. The children are screaming about the food for dinner or when her eldest Jonah, whom various teachers deem him to be “quirky”, can't stop having meltdown episodes in the back seat of the car. It's all projected with the use of snappy montages and Reitman creating a poetic look at the monotony of Marlo's daily parenting tasks. Reitman is precise with every narrative decision, from the crisp lighting, the constant changing of messy rooms, to the up & down emotional tolls that parenting has on Marlo.
Not to be outdone by the writing and direction, is the performance from Theron, delivering her greatest work since Monster. Exactly one year ago, the oscar winner was doing intense hand-to-hand combat in the spy thriller Atomic Blonde and now she's back to the real fight of juggling three little ones. The actor did put on 50 lbs. for this role, but more importantly, she delivers a performance that submerges her into the character. Along the way, Marlo's bond with Tully grows, becoming like two peas in a pod. As Tully's time with Marlo comes to an end, and sadness settles in, reality brings Marlo back to earth.
One of the various themes about Tully, other than the difficulties of parenting, which has become a controversial focal point, is the mental toll it takes on a mother. An extremely eye opening moment of the film for me, was a scene where Marlo walks upstairs to finally get sleep. As she walks into her bedroom, Drew sitting on the bed playing video games. I've been guilty of this. Saying to myself, “my wife can handle it”. I'll watch a movie, while she deals with a crying baby with acid reflux." Postpartum depression is a serious part of being a new parent for mothers. Not to say that the husband has it easy. It's incredibly hard, and no matter how tough a person is, they need as much support from those surrounding them to make it to the next stage.
I learned a valuable lesson from watching Tully. Reitman and Cody have crafted a beautiful film, full of empathy, and love for every mother that takes on the challenge of being a parent. Theron is once again fantastic from beginning to end, and I will never take my wife’s love and companionship for granted. Go see Tully and give your mom a hug.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady
STARRING: CHARLIZE THERON; MACKENZIE DAVIS; RON LIVINGSTON; MARK DUPLASS
DIRECTED BY: JASON REITMEN
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
Tully is a spot on portrayal of what life is like with a newborn, because I am currently living it. On February 26th, my wife gave birth to our beautiful son, Lucas Joseph Brady, and ever since he came into this world my life and her life has been a whirlwind. Like a smack to the face, you quickly discover that being a parent is not easy, and no matter how perfect or fussy your child can be, it's a constant challenge. Even though I'm a parent now, I still gained a fresh and eye opening perspective from watching Tully, the newest film from Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody. It made such an impact that when I returned from my screening, I walked right up to my wife and gave her the biggest hug I could give. Tully teaches us about the sacrifices, the good times, the sleepless nights, and the constant challenges of motherhood. Tully is a brutally honest film and reminds us to always be good to your momma.