The cinematic duo Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody, with their previous work together on Juno and Young Adult, are back in a brilliant return to form. Tully is a ruthlessly raw, unfiltered, and intimate look at motherhood, with all of its breast pumps and diaper bags. Reitman’s lens and Cody’s thoughtfully satirical screenplay deliver the harsh truths of parenting and mental illness.
The film turns out to be a good form of birth control for those who have been spoon-fed Hollywood’s romanticized versions of parenthood. Those stories about the “great moms” who are able to lead the monthly PTA meetings, organize bake sales, and throw the biggest block parties, all while juggling motherhood, have been dismantled for good. Tully tramples this image by portraying the truth: Having kids f*cking sucks. It’s difficult, messy, and, as Charlize Theron’s Marlo tells it, it’s like a garbage truck coming around the corner at 5 AM. It’s especially hard for those moms suffering from postpartum depression, who can’t afford the extra help, and whose husbands are useless or absent. Not only do Reitman and Cody add a new look at motherhood to Hollywood’s repertoire, but they prove just how brave mothers are.
Tully follows Marlo, an exhaustingly overworked mother of three, who is struggling to cope with the price of motherhood. Having just delivered her third child, we see Marlo as she slips into postpartum depression. This worries her brother (Mark Duplass) who convinces Marlo that she should hire a night nanny. This is where the titular Tully (Mackenzie Davis) comes in.
Tully, a 26-year-old, crop-top wearing millennial, evidently becomes a reflection of Marlo’s younger self; a self free from the restraints of motherhood. Tully ultimately serves as a reminder that being young only lasts for so long. With all of Tully’s wisdom that is carefully crafted into Cody’s screenplay, Marlo learns that it’s impossible to be who she used to be because our cells are constantly evolving, constantly shaping us into new people. And as Marlo slips deeper and deeper into her depression, Tully rescues her from drowning, as she becomes the embodiment of the ethereal mermaid that Marlo keeps dreaming of. Tully and Marlo’s relationship leads to a final act that is equally as clever as it is profound. Delivering a complexity that depicts the parts of ourselves that we lose when we become a parent, but also learn that growing up can be just as, if not more, fulfilling.
Theron delivers one of the best performances of the year, reminding audiences why she deserved her Oscar win for Monster in 2004. The brilliant actress that she is can face down Immortan Joe and his hoards of War Boys, and fight her way down a stairwell in Berlin for 10-mins straight, with cool and collected ease. But, what proves to be her greatest challenge is being a mom, which undoubtedly, is the biggest battle of them all.