Tribeca 2018 Review: Tully

R: Language and some sexuality/nudity
Focus Features
1 Hr and 36 Minutes
Dir: Jason Reitman | Writer: Diablo Cody
Cast: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass, Ron Livingston

INTRO: In the film industry, there are dynamic duos who collaborate on numerous projects and work incredibly well together. As far as writer/director collaborations goes, there are team-ups that click so tightly. You have writer Simon Pegg who works with director Edgar Wright a lot, director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman who work together a lot. But one collaborative duo that consistently makes magic together are director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody who worked together on features such as “Juno”, “Young Adult”, and now “Tully”. But does “Tully” hold up to the standards of their previous films?

A mother of three, including a newborn, is gifted a night nanny by her brother (Mark Duplass). Hesitant to the extravagance at first, Marlo comes to form a unique bond with the thoughtful, surprising, and sometimes challenging young nanny named Tully (Mackenzie Davis).

THE GOOD

When it comes to films centered on motherhood, other narratives treat it as a magical experience that should be treasured for every woman. Films such as “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, “Mother’s Day”, and most recently “Bad Moms” are cinematic attestments to this. But not “Tully”. Right from the beginning, “Tully” says, “Fuck all that, motherhood is a bitch.”

A lot of moms portrayed in the media nowadays have either two modes: bitchy or overbearing. Marlo is an authentic mom who is just stressed, empty, and exhausted overall. Both on the surface and underneath, Marlo is an interesting character that you emotionally gravitate towards. Marlo is a woman who loves her family and all, but through the tired look in her eyes, you can see how much she longs for life to go back to the way it was. Her exhaustion affects Marlo’s outlook on life. If you had a smartass 8 year old, a mentally handicapped 5 year old, a newborn that never stops crying, and a workaholic husband who plays CoD all the time when at home, your mood would be at its worst too. She is pessimistic until Tully comes into her life.

Just like her previous collaboration with Reitman & Cody in “Young Adult”, Charlize Theron delivers an extraordinary performance as Marlo. Theron brings a level of authenticity to the approach of this overworked mom. She pulled a Christian Bale and put on 50 lbs for this role. There are no prosthetics or fat suits; Theron’s body is made of actual body fat that a lot of middle-aged moms have. There is a scene where Marlo takes off her shirt due to exhaustion and you see the weight she put on. Besides the physical challenge she tackled to bring this character to life, Theron embodies these characteristics of a stressed out mom. This is the most unrecognizable you’ve ever seen Theron since playing Furiosa in “Mad Max: Fury Road” where she shaved her head.

Besides Theron, MacKenzie Davis gives an energetically fun performance as the titular character who is perky and filled with a positive spirit and teaches Marlo the simpler things in life. Tully is in every sense the definition of the word millenial. She is non monogamous, curious to the world around her, carefree, and make 90s references. If this movie wasn’t called “Tully” it would’ve been called, “The Millennial and the Mommy.” The scenes that Marlo and Tully share are the core of this movie. Theron and Davis share an amazing chemistry together that is both comedic and intimate due to their distinct personalities.

Then, as the film progresses and the story begins to unfold more, it transcends from being just another Reitman movie to a powerful message about aging and coming to terms with your age.
For the most part, this feels like a spiritual sequel to “Young Adult” which also had a similar message, but “Tully” takes a more emotional approach to it that gets frighteningly deep to the extent that it needs a second viewing in order to fully grasp the message in a brand new perspective. The film makes a pretty ballsy move by the third act that you are either going to love or hate, but for me, it just makes the narrative incredibly smarter than expected.

With his films and TV series, Reitman has tackled infidelity (“Up in the Air”), teen pregnancy (“Juno”), sexual relations (“Casual”), and way too many issues at once (“Men, Women & Children”). What makes Reitman one of the best filmmakers who tackles real life problems well is his approach. His characters all feel like real people where they have to face life’s harsh realities and the personal issues they must face as we all do. He keeps all his actors grounded and has them release their vulnerabilities when necessary. He knows how to deliver the emotional punch with his cast. All of his films have a similar mature theme surrounding life and how it’s not all cupcakes and rainbows.

Aside from Reitman, Cody’s original screenplay is phenomenal. The credit may say “directed by Jason Reitman” but you know this is Diablo Cody’s movie because of her writing. The roles she writes for her characters have the similar characteristics where they are mostly sarcastic but the situations she puts them in are realistic trials we as people must face ourselves. Cody’s original screenplay is gut-wrenching due to a lot of elements being so natural and honest. Since the woman is a mom herself this feels as if this was Cody’s personal experiences as a mom put into narrative form.

TULLY – Official Teaser Trailer – In Theaters April 20

THE RENDY

I am not exaggerating when I say DON’T TAKE YOUR MOM TO SEE THIS MOVIE! There are movies you shouldn’t take your mom to see due to content or subject matter, but this a movie that will hit way too close to home with your mom if you are NOT an only child. I don’t care if your mom is a cinephile and love Jason Reitman films or loves Charlize Theron. Don’t take her. If anything, let her see it on her own. Seriously, your mom will get Vietnam flashbacks to her experience raising you and your sibling(s) which will cause her to resent you for a little while.

LAST STATEMENT: Written with passion and honesty while the direction is raw and true, Reitman & Cody’s “Tully” is a powerful third entry into their “Welcome to Adulthood” trilogy. Not only is it a true outlook on the definition of motherhood, but also a brilliant love letter to life and how to make the most out of it.

Rating: 5/5 | 96%

Super Scene: Drive to Bushwick

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