Hot Take: Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman continue to do great work together. Tully is the anti-Mary Poppins. Raw and funny and only occasionally clunky, if it were closer to December, Charlize Theron would be under consideration for an Academy Award nomination… and that’s just because she gained over 40 pounds to perform the role.
Maybe that “Hot Take” is a little too filled with praise. Tully is a solid mid-year flick backed by the talented writer-director team of Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman and headlined by Charlize Theron who is always a delight to watch on screen. As the main character, Theron takes us through the battles of postpartum depression and while the trailer promises a humorous look at the struggles of motherhood, Tully has a much darker timbre. It’s more of a drama than a comedy most of the way through and Theron and co-star Mackenzie Davis (who plays the titular character) work well together in the third film from Cody and Reitman that revolves around growing up. Preceeded by Juno and Young Adult, Tully takes the approach of what happens when you’re forced to grow up.
It’s tough to write a spoiler-free review of Tully as most of what I want to talk about is the third act. To avoid giving too much away, I’ll refrain. Tully centers around Marlo (Theron), a pregnant mother of two who is already dealing with a son with a developmental disorder and suffered a tough post-pregnancy during her last child’s birth. Her brother gifts her a night nanny as a baby shower gift but Marlo declines. Eventually, with her husband (Ron Livingston) away so often and on business and the care of three children being overwhelming, Marlo gives in and Tully (Davis) enters the picture. Her free spirit and youthful vibrance are a spark for Marlo and the support Tully provides has Marlo feeling like her old self and the two find an unexpected bond.
That’s the best I can do without providing any further spoilers. Theron and Davis have a strong connection and work well off of each other. Cody’s work has always been at it’s best when directed by Reitman. (Her two non-Reitman films were Jennifer’s Body and Ricki and the Flash.) Juno was the first and received a plethora of screenplay award nominations and won Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards. Young Adult starred Theron and the actress received a few Best Actress nominations although none from any of the more recognizable awards groups. It’s unlikely Tully will be remembered once we reach awards season but, if it is, it’ll be Theron’s performance that receives any type of buzz. Her physical transformation alone was impactful on screen as she gained over 40 pounds to play the role.
Tully is worth a view but, to be fair, the trailer is very misleading. From most accounts, the portrayal of motherhood is authentic and for someone who has never experienced motherhood even vicariously through someone else, it felt authentic. Tully also has an unexpected charm and moments that are also poignant and wistful. The third act might be a detractor for some but without spoilers, it’s impossible to dissect. There’s nothing special about the film that makes it necessary to see in theaters, though, as this one will work just as well on the smaller screen.
A gritty, unapologetic view of motherhood and its psychological impact sounds like something you want to see.
You have either already experienced for yourself or have no desire to.