Tully - 2018
Director(s): Jason Reitman
Writer(s): Diablo Cody
Cinematography by: Eric Steelberg
Editor(s): Stefan Grube
Cast: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass and Ron Livingston
Synopsis: A mother of three hires a night nanny to help with her newborn (IMDB).
Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody have now three movies, including this one, under their belts, all dealing with different aspects of life. In Juno, we see a teenager forced to grow-up fast as she is dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and the tough decision of giving it up for adoption. In Young Adult, we see a thirty-seven year old woman who is emotionally stunted facing the fact that she has to start acting like a grown adult since her shtick is growing tiresome for everyone, including her. Now in Tully, they tackled motherhood and the forced realization many parents have that your life is no longer solely identified by you, but also by your children.
Diablo Cody has a very specific sense of humor. All of her jokes are dependent on delivery and timing by the actor in the scene. That’s why I’m happy that Charlize Theron (Young Adult) who plays Marlo came back to work with Cody. Theron has a dry delivery perfectly timed to elevate the jokes. Now, don’t go in expecting over the top laughter, since Cody is more focused on realistic humor. We all know that person who has that sarcastic reply or that snarky joke in every single conversation no matter how serious the topic is. Some of the jokes are on purpose to make light of the situation or the person, and some simply escape the filters of the mouth. Marlo simply can’t help herself and I was chuckling at the movie more than I expected. I hope this isn’t the last collaboration between them.
Quick note: Cody also wrote in a lot of mermaid symbolism and I’m not quite sure I understood it. I usually associate mermaids with desire, sexual desire and mystery – themes that I don’t know fully apply to the story. She could’ve been going for mystery, perception or elusion given how the story plays out but again I could be wrong. Let me know what you thought in the comment section down below.
Jason Reitman is a very straightforward director. I can’t think of any distinguishing feature from him. This isn’t meant to be an insult, it’s just that when I’m watching one of his movies and a scene comes up I don’t think “ah that’s a very Reitman-looking scene”. He knows that the script and the actors will speak for themselves and his job is not to call attention to himself or the camera and it works for these stories. You don’t necessarily want the audience to be aware of a “cool” looking shot or angle, you want them invested in the characters and the story. But, it does have a great looking underwater sequence – featuring the mermaid symbolism mentioned above. This is the third movie in a span of months with great visually compelling underwater shots. The Shape of Water and You Were Never Really Here did them better, but Tully’s is pretty good.
The acting by the entire cast is on point, even, to my surprise, by the kid actors. But the stars of the movie are Charlize Theron as Marlo and Mackenzie Davis as Tully. They created and maintained a great chemistry from the first time Marlo opens the door for Tully to the last time they speak to each other. While at first it took me a little time to adjust to Tully’s warm and inviting personality - she stares a lot with her big blue eyes - once I accepted her for who she was I bought into their relationship. Theron is hilarious and Davis is a great partner to bounce the jokes off of. Theron is also raw, tired and unequivocally a mother on her last rope. This movie doesn’t shy away from the stress and the burden (maybe not the best word) of motherhood and the toll it takes on your emotional wellbeing. Theron fully sells this through her facial expression and her occasional outburst, as society expects you to be grateful and joyful at the fact that you haven’t slept in years thanks to your kids. I loved how we are presented with a mother at her best and at her worst, because we all saw these sides from our own mothers and many understand that they are simply humans trying their best.
Now, with all that said, I liked this movie, but I didn’t love it and that’s because of the ending. I love-hate the ending. I love it because it tells a story within the story that I wasn’t expecting, but I hate it because I don’t think it was earned. At no point was there a hint that this is where the story was going or that makes you want to see the movie again in a “new light”. I don’t want to further explain my feelings on this since I don’t want to spoil the movie for you, but it just felt like a “cool” thing to do in the end and not a natural progression of the story.
Tully is a well-made, well-written and well-acted drama-comedy that tackles motherhood at its rawest form. With enough humor woven in throughout the runtime to keep the audience laughing along as we root for our lead to get out of her slump and start loving being a mother once again. With great chemistry from its two leads, the audience can easily buy into the world and fully embrace the characters. Parents will definitely see themselves in this movie and will get a lot more out of it that I did. The trio of Reitman, Cody and Theron are now two for two and I hope we get another entry five years from now. This trio is why I love movies.
Tully is currently playing in theaters. Give it a shot.
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