Tully: A Commanding Performance from Charlize Theron

(l to r.) Mackenzie Davis as Tully and Charlize Theron as Marlo star in Jason Reitman's TULLY, a Focus Features release. Photo credit: Kimberly French/Focus Features.

Director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody have reteamed to bring us Tully, a modern-day look at parenting and how it takes over so much of our lives.

Parenting is exhausting.  There’s no other way to say it.  It’s something that Diablo Cody seeks to explore in the script for Tully.  There’s always something about Jason Reitman bringing Cody’s words to the big screen.  Cody has a way with writing and this film proves that the two have worked their magic together once more.  It’s biographical in nature in that Cody hired a night nurse following the birth of her third child as does the lead character in the film.

Marlo (Charlize Theron) is the mother of three children including one in which she recently delivered after nine months of labor.  At a dinner with her brother, Craig (Mark Duplass), and his wife, they suggest having a night nanny.  Marlo and her husband, Drew (Ron Livingston), are hesitant to the idea at first but they eventually come around to the idea.  Before you know it, Tully (Mackenzie Davis) arrives at their door and soon forms a special bond with Marlo.

Marlo is 40 years old and already mom to eight-year-old Sarah (Lia Frankland) and five-year-old Jonah (Miles Fallica, making his feature debut).  Because of his neurological dysfunction, Jonah is already causing Marlo problems with the faculty at school.  Throw in a third child and discussions with the school staff come with a lot of tension to say the least.  It’s only after a blow-up at school when Marlo decides to take up Craig’s advice to bring in a night nurse.  With Tully now taking care of their newborn overnight, Marlo can finally become reinvigorated to the point in which she can take care of their older children in the morning.  Tully may be 26 years old but there’s a lot of energy on her part.

“Try to take over the world,” Tully says at one point when Marlo asks what she does every day.  I’ll give Diablo Cody credit for a callback to the days of youth when Pinky and the Brain were on television.

Thematically speaking, Tully completes a trilogy that started over a decade ago with the Ellen Page-starring Juno and continued with the Theron-starring Young Adult.  Cody has a way of working her magic with dialogue by writing for these women at different stages of their lives.  Marlo is such a different character from the divorced and alcoholic Mavis Gary that Theron portrayed in 2011.  She’s a character who Theron plays with such command and emotion.  At the core of the film, Tully is about saying goodbye to our youth.

When Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody team up together, the two can do no wrong.  Tully is no exception as proven by such a commanding performance from Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron.

DIRECTOR:  Jason Reitman
SCREENWRITER:  Diablo Cody
CAST:  Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass and Ron Livingston

Following its world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival as a secret screening, Focus Features opens Tully in theaters on May 4, 2018.  A special screening was held during the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival in conjunction with the Tribeca Talks: Directors series.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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