Tully Review: Charlize Theron Goes From Young Adult to Motherhood

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Now, the two are back together after six years apart with another victor, "Tully", starring Charlize Theron (who starred in "Young Adult") as a married mother freed from sleep-deprived insanity by a night nanny whose free-spirited approach to handling her newborn child lights up her entire family's existence. Clearly, Reitman and Cody have spot-on comic chemistry. Her wealthy brother Craig (Mark Duplass) offers to get her a night nanny named Tully (Mckenzie Davis), whose hippy-ish charms instantly make things better even as she forms an awkwardly close bond that includes intently watching Marlo breastfeed and pump milk from start to finish. All the while, she insists she's there to help the parent more than the youngster, with Marlo eventually relying on her as a sounding board while dealing with a midlife crisis, symptoms of postpartum depression, and a host of stressful decisions.

Early scenes show Theron's character suffering the slings and arrows of public reprobation - a woman in the coffee shop tells the still-pregnant Marlo that decaf still contains caffeine - followed by delivery indignity, and then a montage of sleepless childcare that will have young couples thinking twice about going down that road.

As her husband, Ron Livingston astutely portrays the kind of husband that is all too common: a decent guy who doesn't mean to be a bad partner but travels so much for work that it's easier to just tune out on the subtle grind of everyday home life.

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Building on Juno's offbeat teenage pregnancy story and Young Adult's darkly comedic examination of the bitter disillusionment that can come with growing up, Reitman and Cody's third film together dives headfirst into the realities of just how hard (nay, savage) parenthood and specifically motherhood can be. What Marlo knows, and Tully doesn't, is that parenthood changes you, destroys the person you used to be, picks apart your personality and reassembles it.

But Reitman said the film isn't really about motherhood. Reitman doesn't necessarily advance his filmmaking style in Tully, but his methods are as refined as they have ever been. Their dynamic works thanks in no small part to the screen chemistry between Theron and Davis, who shine in their respective roles as the world-weary but caring mother and naive but intelligent nanny who strike up a genuinely touching friendship. Downside is, this keeps the supporting players in Tully on the periphery and their big emotional moments (specifically, those involving Drew and Jonah) struggle to land as a direct result. And when Marlo confesses that she and Drew haven't had sex in many months, Tully comes up with a novel and shocking remedy. Initially, Marlo resents the hell out of this gesture, which she views as a slur on her motherhood, so she shuns the gift and tries to go it alone. As such, the question of whether the film is insensitive or not in its portrayal of certain health concerns is certainly a valid one.

That clever film was spoilt by a messy ending, but Tully is a more even and ambitious production, which attempts a daring storytelling trick which I won't go into here, and pretty much gets away with it.

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