Urban Cinefile
"If you had special X-ray glasses, you could see little angel wings on the back of Mel Gibson's shoulders "  -Helen Hunt on her admiration for Mel
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Wednesday August 15, 2018 

Search SEARCH FOR A REVIEW
Our Review Policy OUR REVIEW POLICY
Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE

Help/Contact

TULLY

SYNOPSIS:
Life changes for Marlo (Charlize Theron) in her chaotic world, when a Night Nanny named Tully (Mackenzie Davis) comes into her life to help her cope with her two young children and a new baby.

Review by Louise Keller:
Don't be misled: this is no comedy. Tully is a psychological drama about motherhood - without the gloss. It's raw, painful and confronting. But there is beauty in the pain as we partake in the journey and reach the destination. Truth, lies and expectations are the themes of Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody's third collaboration; it's a film that delves deeper than you might expect and offers food for thought beyond its central theme.

Involving, confronting and buoyed by insight, Cody's (Juno, Young Adult) adept screenplay comes from a dark place replete with pain. A place where paradoxes convene and conspire. Embracing the material with great sensitivity, Reitman (Up in the Air, Thank You for Smoking) brings all the elements together with finesse. The upbeat soundtrack lifts us. I enjoyed the film more in hindsight, when the conflation of all the intricate details painted on its canvas solidifies into a thoughtful work of art.

When the film begins, we enter Marlo's (Theron) tumultuous reality as she juggles life with two demanding young children and the imminent arrival of a new baby. She is clearly on the edge. A woman in crisis. We understand exactly what she is going through as we watch her face when special needs son Jonah (Asher Miles Fallica) throws his tantrums. Likewise, when his school alerts her to his being 'quirky'. Or do they mean 'retarded'? There is no euphoric moment when the baby is born. It is perfunctory. The baby's name is revealed later - almost as an afterthought.

Devoid of the constraints of vanity, Theron gives us her all. She is superb and delivers a nuanced, sublime performance. Superficially, we see the excess weight she carries on her body. But there is also the burden of the weight of Marlo's expectations. Life's expectations. Her own. Society tells her she should be happy. Grateful. Able to manage everything on her own. Right? Husband Drew (Ron Livingston) is there. Supportive in his own way. But he is a cardboard cutout. Present but absent; retreating into his escapist world of video games each night. As for sex? Forget it. How does a milk machine by day become a sex siren by night? Happiness is not delivered with Baby number 3, but chaos: nappies, swollen breasts, expressing milk, more nappies and sleep deprivation. All this and a recurring dream about a mermaid. These are the impossible quandaries in Marlo's life.

Does Marlo reconsider her wealthy brother Craig's (Mark Duplass) offer of a gift of a Night Nurse to help her through this demanding time? A knock on the door one night and the arrival of Tully (Mackenzie Davis, enigmatic in this Mary Poppins-esque role) is a game changer. 'You can't fix the parts without treating the whole,' this bright, calm 24 year old tells Marlo as she sets about to resolve all her issues, addressing every aspect of her life impacted by the pressures and strains of motherhood. Watch for the scene when Tully asks Marlo about Drew's fantasies. We shake our heads in disbelief as to where this might be heading.

Just as we begin to wonder where we are heading, there is a gear change, taking the film in an unexpected direction. It may take you by surprise. It surprised me. What also surprised me was my reflective response to the film. This is not the feel-good film you might expect, but one filled with sensitivity and observation. It's a bittersweet insight that works beautifully on its own terms.

Email this article

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TULLY (M)
(US, 2018)

PRODUCER: Charlize Theron, Diablo Cody, Jason Reitman, Mackenzie Davis, A.J.Dix, Helen Estabrook, Aaron L. Gilbert, Beth Kono, Mason Novick,

DIRECTOR: Jason Reitman

SCRIPT: Diablo Cody

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Eric Steelberg

EDITOR: Stefan Grube

MUSIC: Rob Simosen

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Anastasia Masaro

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Studio Canal

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 10, 2018







Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2018