Starring Charlize Theron as a busy mother on the brink of a breakdown and Mackenzie Davis as the young woman who comes to help her out of a tight spot, Tully marks the third collaboration between acclaimed director Jason Reitman and Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult). Dealing with themes surrounding modern parenthood and postpartum depression, the film is a welcome return to form for the director who has over the last couple years struggled to equal the brilliance of his debut feature Thank You For Smoking (2005) or the brilliance of the critically acclaimed Juno (2007).
Marlo (Theron) is a busy middle-class mother of two who is also on the last stages of a stressful third pregnancy. Struggling to cope with the constant demands from her special needs son Jonah (Asher Miles Fallica) and his bright 8-year-old sister, Marlo has so far opted to suffer in silence unbeknown to her nonplussed husband Drew (Ron Livingston). Stress levels are cranked up to the max when Marlo is advised to find another school for Jonah who is finding it increasingly hard to fit in at his current one.
Urged by her much more successful brother Craig (Mark Duplass) to consider hiring a night-nurse to help with the new arrival, things soon start to fall into place for Marlo when the young and seemingly tireless Tully (Mackenzie Davis) arrives to lend a much-needed hand, consequently transforming Marlo’s life overnight.
Reitman offers a truly remarkable film in which preconceived ideas about motherhood are constantly challenged. Elevated by a beautifully well devised script by Diablo Cody, Tully manages to get under the skin from the get go with its witty dialogue and beautifully well judged lighthearted moments. As Marlo is put through a series of stressful situations, Reitman is able to create an air of unease which, in turn, drives home the idea that all is not well with his main protagonist. The director is also careful not to brush over the real financial concerns voiced by his characters, adding a commendable dose of social-realism to this brilliantly well thought-out semi-comedic production.
Theron is truly magnificent in the role of a woman who, with each pregnancy, has struggled to reconcile herself with whom she used to be. While her weight gain for the role is the first thing we notice about her, it is however her performance which further cements her standing as one of the best character actors of her generation.
Swooping into the household like a modern-day Mary Poppins, Mackenzie Davis is truly outstanding as Tully. Her nonchalance and contagious joie de vivre is used to counterbalance Marlo’s downbeat and, at times, depressive demeanour.
On the whole, Tully more than delivers on its ambitious promise both visually and thematically, making it into one of Reitman’s best films to date. A hugely compelling, beautifully acted and expertly crafted piece of filmmaking which deserves to been seen by all.
Tully is in cinemas from Friday 4th of May