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Movie Review: Tully
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Tully movie review header

Director: Jason Reitman
Writer: Diablo Cody
Cast: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass, Ron Livingston
Distributor: Focus Features
Rated PG-13 | Minutes: 96 Minutes
Release Date: May 4, 2018

For some, parenthood is easy and comes almost naturally. For others, it can be a bit of a challenge. And I cannot say that I am an authority figure on motherhood, given my clear lack of experience, but Jason Reitman‘s Tully, a comedy-drama starring Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis, is probably one of the most honest depictions of what it is like to be a mother in a contemporary age. Check out my full review of the film here below.

Tully follows Marlo (Theron), loving wife to Drew (Ron Livingston) and mother of two, with a third on the way. Feeling the pressures of living on a fixed income and caring for two young children while her husband travels for work, Marlo gets some much-needed help via her brother, Craig (Mark Duplass), so she can hire a nanny. Although, the night nurse help isn’t who she expected it to be. Tully (Davis) is a free-spirited 26-year-old who is wise beyond her years, and helps Marlo with getting her life back together.

One of the most unexpected things about Tully is how honest it is about motherhood, and yet it still can maintain a sense of humor without losing any of the dramatic aspects. Diablo Cody‘s (Juno) script is well-balanced and properly envisioned thanks to working with a frequent collaborator Reitman. But it’s the chemistry between Theron and Davis that makes the film shine. The two quickly become fast friends with Marlo seeing something she lost in Tully and Tully seeing the future in Marlo. It’s a reflection of the two that will become more clear as the film progresses.

Marlo is the glue of the family and is seen doing much of the familial duties, like taking her kids to school, learning more about her son – who is on the spectrum and is at risk of being kicked out of the school that Craig pays for – and cooking. Meanwhile, Drew is a father who barely plays a role as a father. After coming home from his long trips, he is seen playing video games, barely doing a thing to help around the house. This family isn’t necessarily hanging by a thread, but if they don’t get the help they need, it will fall apart.

Marlo is on the verge of a mental breakdown and burning herself out in almost an instant. It gets to a point where she needs to vent towards others in the most unexpected ways. She goes up to the private school and learns that her son is about to be kicked out because him being on the spectrum doesn’t make him a good fit. As a result, she lashes out at the school administration and admits that they wouldn’t be at the school if her brother wasn’t already helping them pay for it. So in an attempt to reconcile, she makes cupcakes.

And that is just one example of how Cody crafted very relatable characters. Who wouldn’t do something like that in order to make peace? It may not be an olive branch, but it is tastier than one. And so, Marlo gets help from Tully.

Tully may look like she is inexperienced, but she has plenty of life experience despite the huge age difference between her and Marlo. She is a good listener, and not only does she know what Marlo needs, she isn’t afraid to say it, whether it is reinvigorating Marlo’s sex life, coming to terms with her son’s situation, realizing long lost dreams, or just letting go.

It’s a lot to process for a mother of three. But it is something that could help her in the long run. And we see that Marlo goes through a range of emotions just as any mother would. But given her situation, one has to sympathize with what Marlo is going through, and can’t help but feel like you want to reach out to give an assist. And as blunt as Tully may be, she is the kind of friend anyone would be glad to have. She shines like a warm light and brightens the mood during any dark situation.

Tully works so well because Theron and Davis work so well together. Because they are polar opposites in terms of age and life-experience we get to see how one helps the other without actually realizing. Tully is able to look and feel real because it is able to offer its audience relatable material. That makes the film that much more refreshing. Underneath all of the stress and frustrations parents could have, Tully reminds us that there will be a time that we need to ask for help and that self-care is very important for the soul.

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