Movie Review: Tully
Tully is the latest collaboration between Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody, the creative forces behind the Academy Award nominated Juno. Directed by Reitman and written by Cody, the film follows a mother of three whose life is changed by the arrival of a night nanny. Charlize Theron stars as the overwhelmed mother, Marlo, and Mackenzie Davis portrays the helpful night nanny, Tully. The supporting cast is also comprised of Mark Duplass, Ron Livingston, and Elaine Tan. The film was previously screened at the Sundance Film Festival in January and was distributed for wider audiences this past weekend.
The film begins by introducing us to an extremely pregnant Marlo (Theron) and her son, Jonah. He is extremely sensitive to sounds and routines, which keeps Marlo constantly on her toes. Marlo struggles to get Jonah and her daughter, Sarah, to school and arrive to a meeting with the principal on time. Once she gets to the meeting, she discovers that Jonah is in need of a private aid during school hours, which she will have to pay for herself. After school, Marlo and her family eat dinner with her brother, Craig (Duplass), who lives an easy life as a rich businessman. He insists on hiring a night nanny for Marlo as a baby gift, which Marlo initially scoffs at. However, once she gives birth to her new daughter, she finds the sleepless nights and lack of help from her husband overwhelming. After a meltdown, she calls the number her brother has given her for the night nanny. Marlo’s life slowly begins to change with the arrival of Tully, a 26-year-old nanny with lots of insight into Marlo’s life.
So, I am all for a quirky, comedic drama, which meant that Tully had been on my radar for several months. While the film was not at all what I expected it to be, I still sincerely enjoyed the story. I, myself, am not a mother at this time, but almost all of my best friends are in that stage of life. I have laughed at many of their chaotic stories involving their children and listened to them have breakdowns on their worst days. For that reason, I found that Tully had a certain kind of realistic charm to it. When she looks exhausted serving her kids frozen pizza and steamed vegetables, that seemed like an everyday occurrence in many households around the country. Marlo’s sleepless nights and inability to catch a shower most days is a scenario that probably seems all too familiar for new moms.
In addition to capturing some of the normalcy and struggles of motherhood, the film wrestles with a lot of questions. With Jonah, Marlo is constantly questioning whether his needs are truly being met. With the new baby, she initially struggles with connecting to her. Through her conversations with Tully, Marlo reflects on her life choices and wonders whether she is a good enough mother. She struggles with keeping it all together while other moms bring in decorated cupcakes and host school functions. Marlo is a woman who has lost herself in the demands of day to day life, and these are the moments when the film truly shines. It also helps that Charlize Theron’s performance makes the audience empathize with every emotion and scenario.
At the end of the day, I found Tully to be an odd yet heartwarming and refreshing film. The performances from the entire cast were great, although Theron and Mackenzie Davis easily steal the spotlight. However, I hesitate to say more because you should walk into this film knowing as little as possible. It has some eccentric moments, but be sure to stick it out because the ending has an excellent payoff. The film has a quirky charm that is sure to keep your attention, and if you enjoy smaller comedic dramas, then I would say to check Tully out in theater. Also, if you are a fan of Reitman’s previous work, like Juno or Up in the Air, then I think you’ll find this to be another delightful addition to his filmography.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.