“Tully” Shows A Side Of Motherhood We Don’t Often See

by Erika W. Smith


Media often shows new mothers glowing, beaming at their newborns, and instantly bonding with their infants. Tully, the new dramedy written by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman, shows another view. Charlize Theron stars as Marlo. When we first meet her, she’s in her final month of pregnancy, but she’s already pushed to her limits raising her “quirky” son who has difficult managing his emotions and is about to get kicked out of his fancy private kindergarten, and her eight-year-old daughter who’s just beginning to hit the insecurities of pre-pubescence. Marlo’s husband, Drew (Ron Livingston), is nice enough but absent—he’s constantly away on business trips, and when he is home, he’s playing video games with headphones on while Marlo does the vast majority of the parenting and housework.

Shortly before Marlo gives birth, her wealthy brother Craig (Mark Duplass) offers her an unconventional present: He’ll pay for a night nanny so Marlo can get some sleep and hopefully avoid the postpartum depression she developed after the birth of her son. After a difficult first few weeks with her newborn daughter—brilliantly illustrated in a montage of diaper changing, middle-of-the-night wailing, and breast milk-pumping (and -spilling)—Marlo decides to take him up on that offer. She finds that the night nanny Tully (Mackenzie Davis) is there to do much more than late-night diaper changes. “I’m here to take care of you,” Tully says, and she does. Tully cleans the house; bakes cupcakes for Marlo’s son’s class; jump-starts Marlo and Drew’s sex life; coaxes Marlo into bonding with her newborn; and helps Marlo process her longing for her carefree twentysomething days in Bushwick.

Though the ending is a little heavy-handed, Diablo Cody’s smart, funny dialogue makes Tully an enjoyable watch even when it’s uncomfortable, and Charlize Theron gives a strong performance as an exhausted, burnt-out mom. (4 / 5)

photo: Tully

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