From director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody comes Tully (2018), a film that follows Marlo (Charlize Theron), a married mother of two with a third child on the way. When we first meet Marlo, she is pregnant with her third child, and you can tell she is already struggling in her day to day life. Not only is she in the third trimester of pregnancy with her third child, but she is also struggling to keep up with her other two children, one of which has special needs. As the birth of the third child nears, Marlo finds out that her wealthy brother (played by Mark Duplass) has gifted her a night nanny as a baby gift. A night nanny is someone who comes in and stays up with the baby at night, so mom and dad can get some sleep. Marlo is a little weirded out by the concept of having a stranger in her house while she sleeps, so she politely declines. After the baby arrives, Marlo struggles more and more, and after a bit, she decides to give in and calls the night nanny, Tully (Mackenzie Davis). Shortly after Tully arrives, Marlo begins to see the benefits of having a night nanny; her stress level is decreasing and as a result, her day to day life is improving. She is not only thankful for everything Tully does for her family but also begins to form a friendship with Tully who it turns out she has a lot in common with.
Tully (2018) is the film I was most excited to see at this years Atlanta Film Festival. Not only is it directed by one of my favorite directors, Jason Reitman, but it is also written by Diablo Cody who is best known for her outstanding debut film, Juno (2007). As if that weren't enough, Reitman also tosses in the exceptional on-screen talent that is Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass, and Ron Livingston. While the talent both behind and in front of the camera was enough to draw me into the film, what intrigued me even more, was its story. I recently had a baby with my lovely wife, and from what I saw in the trailer for Tully, I was intrigued by how accurately it seemed to present the day to day life that comes with having a newborn.
I absolutely loved Tully (2018). In true Reitman and Cody fashion, it is a very witty and fun film but also possesses a lot of depth and heart. Tully is easily the most honest portrait of parenthood I have ever seen in a movie. The film is marketed very much as comedy, and while it is hilarious, it also showcases the severe hardships that come with being a new parent. Especially for the mother. After we saw the film, my wife and I kept talking about how real it felt. While watching Tully, you don't ever feel like you are watching Hollywood A-Lister Charlize Theron, you feel like you are watching Marlo, a real mom who is sincerely struggling with life. Many films that try to tackle storylines related to having children brush over many of the finite details that come with the job, but not Tully! In fact, the film takes its time and emphasizes the details to help build the narrative.
I can't talk about this film though, without acknowledging the outstanding performance by Charlize Theron. This was a brave role for Theron who is commonly recognized as one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood. Not only did she have to gain more than 50 pounds for the role, but she had to embrace her new "mombod" physic. For much of the film, we get a very natural looking "no makeup" Theron and in one particularly hilarious scene, she even strips down to her bra at the dinner table and lets it all hang out. Aside from the physical demands of the role, Theron also had to deliver on a wide range of emotions; which she does perfectly.
After the film concluded we were treated to a live Q&A with director Jason Reitman, who was in attendance to accept the first ever "Rebel Award" from the Atlanta Film Festival. During the Q&A Reitman shared that he was incredibly proud of how well they were able to capture the honesty and struggle that is being a parent. When Cody first shared the script, Reitman, Cody, and Theron had all recently had children, so the script felt very familiar and they thought it was the perfect time to bring this story to life. He also mentioned that Diablo Cody wrote the entire script in just a few days and in chronological order, which is incredibly impressive and very rare for a scriptwriter.
Tully (2018) is a deep and real portrait of parenthood. While it is written with sharp and witty humor, it also dives head first into some very genuine struggles that women have to deal with during and after the birth of a child. But it addresses these deep and potentially dark topics in a heartfelt way. I give Tully a 10 out of 10.
Tully • In Theaters May 4th • Runtime 1:36 • Rating R - Language and some sexuality/nudity