Directed by Jason Reitman
Starring – Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Ron Livingston
The Plot – The film is about Marlo (Theron), a mother of three including a newborn, who is gifted a night nanny (Davis) by her brother. Hesitant to the extravagance at first, Marlo comes to form a unique bond with the thoughtful, surprising, and sometimes challenging young nanny named Tully.
Rated R for adult language and some sexuality involving nudity
– The most revealing look into motherhood that film has ever produced. To define this film as candid means that it covers the whole spectrum on the creative front. Beyond what’s going on with Marlo and her own daily routine, Reitman is genius with depicting how other people view and treat her, as well as offering some honest observations between husband and wife that points to a lot of the problems without being too preachy.
– Great performances are often transformative ones, and Theron has this concept quite literally by the nipple. As Marlo, we meet a woman who is not only psychologically bent, but also physically defeated with the effects that three children have had on her body. Theron gained fifty pounds for the role, proving once again that when you sign Charlize into a role, you aren’t getting someone who acts, you’re getting someone who lives and breathes this fragile leader of the household.
– Strong casting all around. In addition to Theron’s award-worthy praise, I also have to give kudos to Davis as the title character, as well as Livingston as Marlo’s ineffective counterpart. We can still adore Livingston’s dry straight man routine, but I found myself getting angrier with his ignorance the longer it went on, in turn feeding into what this poor woman has dealt with for a very long time. As for Davis, her quirky diatribe on positivity felt like a breath of fresh air to combat the smothering surrounding that have plagued our main protagonist. When Theron and Davis are together, the film thrives the most, and that’s because they are simultaneously bouncing off of one another with experience versus experimentation.
– Meaning with montage. Most films that use montages in modern cinema do so without much meaning or context behind them. ‘Tully’ showcases these scenes by depicting the perils of repetition in routine that fill in the gaps wonderfully with a limited run time (89 minutes). With some clever editing to boot, the days feel like they blend together, meaning we (Like Marlo) feel like we’re stuck in this bubble that never progresses. If hell is repetition, we have reached the seventh circle of hell. Cinematic birth control.
– Going into this film and knowing Reitman as a writer, I expected a strong combination of dramatic pull and unabashed humor that go hand-in-hand, but I didn’t expect how well these things converge with one another in this particular setting. Parenting in general screams comedy, but most films are afraid to get politically incorrect with how agonizing this endless and thankless job can get, and it’s in that honesty where I appreciated the undercurrent in emotional registry that Reitman commanded in forcing us to pay attention. This isn’t as dominant of a comedy as his other films ‘Juno’ and ‘Young Adult’. Instead, ‘Tully’ proves just how far Reitman has grown, proving that you can move someone by laughter or pain and have it reach the same effect.
– The handheld camera work here is beautifully meaningful. To me, it feels like we have stumbled upon the home movies of a family because nothing is glamourized or glorified here, and in that documentarian design we can move confidently throughout these characters without ever feeling constricted to choreographed storyboards that keeps the focus on one particular section of frame.
– From a tonal perspective, I loved that there was such unpredictability with where this story could truly be heading. I credit a great trailer a lot for this reason, as the story of a nanny who basically takes over the nightly routines could’ve easily turned into a horror or suspense film during the third act. Where it did go was satisfying aplenty, but I appreciate a film more that pokes its audience without taking away the interesting material boiling just beneath the surface.
– Diablo Cody’s sharp poke of the pen that articulates the growth of one of Hollywood’s best writers. When Diablo wrote ‘Juno’, she was childless, and now with ‘Tully’ she has two children of her own, and it’s in that change where we learn that as much as things change, they remain the same. Cody still has her finger on the very pulse of the subject matter that she crafts, and her newest sets a precedent that is every bit as visceral as it is provocative.
– There are certain subplots introduced in the first and second acts that are never followed through with. I won’t spoil much, but a college friend of Marlo’s is introduced early, only to never be seen again, as well as some hints at a polyamorous side to marriage that is never further realized.
– I feel like the third act swing in conflict felt so unnecessary and so typical to screenplays just to please a studio. This film moved smoothly when the focus stayed on peeling back the many layers of Marlo’s bruised psyche, and this out-of-left-field bombshell subdues more than it sizzles in keeping the consistency of this impactful narrative.