Capsule Movie Review: Tully
Charlize Theron reunites with Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody for a beautifully rendered tribute to maternal sacrifice, and the unique mental space of a middle-aged mom who wonders if she did life right.
Starring: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass, Lia Frankland, Maddie-Dixon Poirier, Ron Livingston
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Rating: 1 hr 35 mins
Running time: Restricted
By Katherine Monk
Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody may be my favourite non-romantic movie couple. The two peers collaborated on the award-winning Juno, then worked on Young Adult and now, this little Vancouver-shot wonder called Tully.
It’s exactly the kind of movie we’ve come to expect from this duo — who seem to have adopted the fully grown Charlize Theron as their favourite mutant child. The movie begins, and about twenty minutes into it, you almost wonder where it’s going.
Screenwriter Cody refuses to uncork the central dilemma in the second scene. We don’t get the “oh my god what will happen next??” hook around our throat. In fact, you may not even realize what the central dilemma is until long after the movie is over.
In this way, the worlds they create feel a lot like regular old life — which is exactly what consumes them both — and probably why they’ve had such success with Theron. Theron doesn’t look like ‘regular old life.’ Her statuesque physique and perfect face inserted into “regular old life” feels like a waking dream, and that’s the perfect mood for the substance of Tully because this is the story of an overwhelmed Mom.
Marlo (Theron) has two kids and she’s very, very pregnant with her third. Her son Jonah has special needs, and her daughter Sarah (Vancouver’s Lia Franklin), is starting to feel the pressure to be pretty. Marlo is a patient saint who endures the constant kicking from the back seat, but she’s already stretched thin, and when the baby comes, she’s close to breaking.
Her statuesque physique and perfect face inserted into “regular old life” feels like a waking dream, and that’s the perfect mood for the substance of Tully because this is the story of an overwhelmed Mom.
Her affluent brother (Mark Duplass) offers to help out with a night nanny — but Marlo refuses. She won’t surrender the most important baby-bonding years to a stranger, but eventually, she yields and in walks Tully (Mackenzie Davis) — a gorgeous young hipster who reminds Marlo of her own youth. Tully makes everything better, helps Marlo rediscover her inner ambitions, and in the mere act of letting her sleep — Tully gives her the ability to “see colours again.”
The scenes between Theron and Davis are so gorgeously written, they kick out new space in the studio apartment usually occupied by female character. And Theron is chewing it all, even using her physicality in a new, fascinatingly schlubby way. Like Juno, or Young Adult, the humour is steeped in a deep sense of humanism — which means there are no guffaws, just a constant sigh of recognition, and the comforting thought that perfection is an illusion.
THE EX-PRESS, May 4, 2018