Tully (A - M/UK - 15/US - R)

In A Word: Honest

Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron as Marlo in Tully.

 

"It is no accident that Tully was released in the lead-up to Mother’s Day as it honours the love, commitment and sacrifice of a mother. Despite all the difficulties of raising a child, this film shows us that the greatest challenge that must be overcome is the battle within - against our own insecurities and expectations of what being a good parent means."

Over a 20 year career Charlize Theron has played a range of characters that includes heroes (Mad Max Fury Road), villains (Prometheus, Fate of the Furious), lovers (The Astronaut's Wife), killers (Monster), spies (Atomic Blonde) and even a queen (Huntsman - Winters War).  Now the accomplished actress takes on what perhaps might be her greatest challenge: Motherhood.

Theron plays Marlo, a middle-aged mother of two in the final stages of pregnancy with a third unplanned child. The household is already stressed by the demands of Jonah, her young son, who struggles with an undiagnosed development disorder leading to tantrums and rising tensions at school. Husband Drew (Ron Livingstone) is busy with work and leaves the bulk of parenting in the hands of his struggling wife. Just days before the baby is due, Marlo’s wealthy brother Craig (Mark Duplass) offers a generous gift: to pay for a highly recommended night nanny to help the family. 

Marlo initially scoffs at the idea, thinking it to be an insult to her parenting abilities. But when the baby, Mia, arrives, the demands of nursing a newborn, dealing with schools, housework and her other children push Marlo to the limit. In desperation she hires the night nanny, Tully (Mackenzie Davis), who begins to transform every part of Marlo’s life.

Theron’s performance is raw and emotional as she explores the impact of motherhood on her mind, body, marriage and self-esteem. Davis is equally impressive, playing the title role with such warmth, wit and wisdom as she endears herself to Marlo that audiences will wish they had a Tully in their lives too.

Director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody, in what is their fourth collaboration (following Juno, Jennifer’s Boy and Young Adult), have injected the script with humour, honesty and some genuine surprises. It is squarely aimed at adult audiences as there is a significant amount of swearing in Marlo’s moments of frustration, not to mention the mature scenes that focus on her love life.

It is no accident that Tully was released in the lead-up to Mother’s Day as it honours the love, commitment and sacrifice of a mother. Despite all the difficulties of raising a child, this film shows us that the greatest challenge that must be overcome is the battle within - against our own insecurities and expectations of what being a good parent means.

In a world that places so much emphasis on outward achievements - going to a good school, participating in the PTA, teaching children foreign languages and exotic skills (like Pilates) - it is hard to see the true measure of a parent. Tully teaches Marlo something that we can all learn - that first we must come to terms with who we are so we can be fully present for our families. For it is in being fully present that a child will know they are loved. And that is the greatest gift a mother can give.

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