Tully [REVIEW]

It is fitting that I saw Tully on Mother’s Day. With my own mom in a different city, it seemed fitting to celebrate mothers with a film that is such an unflinching and honest portrait of the difficult and beautiful role these women play in our lives. Director Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody reunite for the third time in what is possibly my favorite of their collaborations. Tully acts as a kind of conclusion to an unofficial trilogy comprised of Juno, Young Adult and Tully.

The basic premise of the film is pretty straight forward. Marlo is a mom of two, who is expecting a third any day now. Her son, who is in kindergarten has a plethora of emotional needs as a result of a yet to be named disorder which seems to be on the autism spectrum. Charlize Theron delivers an astonishingly raw performance. Watching the film, I wanted nothing more than to draw her a bath, take the kids to the park and give her a moments peace. Something she doesn’t seem to have had since the birth of her second child.

Marlo’s stresses come to a head when the baby arrives and she finds herself completely overwhelmed by her children’s needs. At her breaking point, she concedes to a gift offered by her brother, a night nanny named Tully.

Tully, played by McKenzie Davis is effortlessly cool, while also somehow managing to know exactly what newborn Mia needs, but more importantly what Marlo needs. She whisks in and essentially saves Marlo. She dotes on the baby, cleans the house and leaves flowers in a vase on the table. She bakes cupcakes for Marlo to take in for her son’s class. She is the life line to a woman who was drowning in the tide of her own life.

I won’t get into the various twists that the movie slowly unfolds for the viewer. And while I’m not about to spoil them, the twists aren’t what make this movie what it is. Many writers can pull the rug out from under you in the final act. The dialogue is possibly Cody’s best yet. The stand outs for me are Marlo’s interactions with the school administrator. It’s the perfect balance of wit, combined with the thoughts most people don’t say out loud. But then most people aren’t spiralling as result of lack of sleep, stress and general and complete physical exhaustion.

At the center of the film is Charlize Theron doing some of her best work yet. As Marlo she is covered in metaphorical wounds. From the lives she could have had, the lovers left in the past, the ones earned protecting her son from his own anxieties. Marlo is at the center of the film, almost always in frame. We see her at her bock rottom, and we see her at her idealized self. Throughout it all, Theron imbues her with a sense of realness. Of a woman who can carry the wait on her shoulders, but who suffers deeply as a result of the burden. Years from now, we'll still be talking about this performance. While the film may be overlooked in favor of flashier fare come election season, history will remember this powerhouse performance alongside her roles Aileen Wuornos and Grand Imperator Furiosa.

 Once you are done collecting all of your emotions when the end credits roll, call your Mom. She loves you and could probably stand to hear how much you love and appreciate the whole giving you life thing.

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