May 3, 2018

SCREEN | Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis Raise 'Tully'

"I feel like an abandoned trash barge."
Charlize Theron Diablo Cody Jason Reitman | Tully

The creative team behind Young Adult, screenwriter Diablo Cody, her Juno director Jason Reitman, and star Charlize Theron, move past adulthood arrested development and into the burden of contemporary motherhood. Tully explores the mundane but maddening everyday situations around female childrearing as a fully grown ass adult.

After the critical and commercial disappointments of Labor Day and Men, Women & Children, Reitman returns to Cody's precise feminist material and voice for a biting look at the role of women and mothers in families. It's a grippingly real dissection of female mental health that's stirring, raw, and sometimes sadly hilarious.

Enter the luminous Mackenzie Davis and all of her optimism as the titular saviour night nanny (think Mary Poppins sans singing but every bit as magical) and Tully weaves back and forth between the harsh realities of raising a young family with little energy and female identity after motherhood. Cody's writing is on point as ever. She and Reitman craft a sharp portrait of postpartum depression and struggling through it all.

Charlize Theron Diablo Cody Jason Reitman | Tully

What's most remarkable, honest, and refreshing about Tully's story is how off-hand its many little details are. Theron's Marlo and her husband Drew (Ron Livingston) have three kids including an unplanned newborn baby without her own room. Both have mundane jobs and live a seemingly unremarkable middle-class life. While their circumstances are trying and they have plenty of identifiable problems, we see moments of authentic warmth, love, and frustration expressed sublimely.

Not much happens in Tully outside of its basic premise yet I could have watched Theron and Davis' sparkling chemistry just talking and watching episodes of Gigolos forever. The always welcome Mark Duplass as Marlo's brother offers an amusing counterpoint to her life as a hip, rich, "new money" type who first suggests a night nurse to her. Theron's sour yet glowing performance is chock full of anger and love. It's a really nuanced role as Marlo mourns the loss of her young adult dreams.

Tully is a brutal yet heartfelt treatise on contemporary motherhood played as a sort of whimsical, feminist fantasy. Theron, Reitman, and Cody further prove their dynamic match together. Their collaboration together brings such a sense of poignancy and honest humour to the screen. If nothing else, it's a complex depiction of just sheer exhaustion parents experience.

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