Motherhood is a vexed subject: easily over-sentimentalized; just as easily painted as an extra circle of Dante’s Inferno. It is also fertile ground for cultivating more of the Madonna-whore dichotomy, and keeping female actors in a creatively limited slot.
Then along comes a film like Tully and blows the joint up.
Writer Diablo Cody has once again teamed up with director Jason Reitman, with whom she made Juno, and together they have crafted a cinematic masterpiece.
Charlize Theron is Marlo, who finds herself pregnant with an “oops” baby at nearly 40. Already stressed with two children-one of whom is “on the spectrum” and displays difficult behaviours-she takes her rich brother’s offer of a night nanny, to help her get some sleep. Enter Tully, played by Mackenzie Davis. The two women develop a deep friendship, and Marlo starts to find her mojo again.
This sounds like a simple, motherhood-friendship-chick-flick scenario, but it is far from it. Cody’s screenplay explores depths and goes into dark corners most writers avoid. It is also hilarious at times, surprisingly sexy at others, and gut-wrenchingly authentic.
Theron is extraordinary in this role and the delightful Davis is able to make Tully adorable without being cloying: the two women share an on-screen chemistry which is at the heart of this movie. Also wonderful is Mark Duplass as husband, Craig. Another joy of this film is that Craig is portrayed as neither the husband-from-heaven nor the useless-butt-of-husband-jokes.
Reitman has given his actors space in which to ply their craft, supported by Eric Steelberg on cinematography.
This is compulsory viewing for anyone who has been or plans to be, a mother; anyone who lives with a mother; anyone who co-parents with a mother; or anyone who respects the art of film-making when it reaches these sorts of heights.
Tully will take you on an emotional journey like no other, without a trace of sentimentality or cheap tricks. And the twist at the end will leave you winded.
Personally, I haven’t cried so much since The Wallabies last lost the Bledisloe Cup.
Check out the official site here.