Got the First Half Right


04 May 2018| No Comments on Tully     by Sean Chavel



Empathetic movie therapy for any parent, and especially a parent who had first-hand experience with the juggling act of raising an infant alongside their pre-teens. Tully is also a showcase for actress Charlize Theron, who can plays exhaustion and sleep deprivation with crushing truth, and unlike most movie moms, Theron’s character Marlo is interminably stuck with the post-partum baby weight. It’s also a rare motherhood movie that portrays breast milk pumping, and in one shot, the horror of the milk bag collapsing and spilling out.

Theron has re-teamed with director Jason Reitman after working on “Young Adult” several years ago, and Theron seems to always go the extra mile for director Reitman. Yet it should also be said, in praise, all the supporting players do first-rate convincing work. That includes Ron Livingston as the ineffectual husband Drew, and Mark Duplass as the rich and happy-go-lucky brother who offers to pay for a night nanny. Duplass’ wife, played by Elaine Tan, is perfect, which is a rub of salt in the wound to Marlo’s self-esteem.

There are several ongoing months of parenthood where it is both a “blessing,” but also marathon slave work to the point the parent neglects their own well-being. It goes against some principles to have a stranger come into the home at night, but there is a breaking point for moms like Marlo. The night nanny proves just what a difference it can make in relieving the stress and agony for Marlo.

So much real insight is had, and screenwriter Diablo Cody writes stingers for dialogue. Here’s the but… The movie takes a sharp left turn after an hour, and while it’s not a complete deal-breaker, “Tully” is the kind of movie that was more effective for us playing it straight.

Mackenzie Davis plays the night nanny Tully, and she’s a marvelous actress even though the character is wish fulfillment. She’s chattering with bottomless life lesson riddles, freshly attuned to both mother and infant needs, and cleans the house in moonlight too. Tully believes in liberal sexuality, so she doesn’t mind that Marlo has a guilty pleasure for a sleazy cable show called “Gigolos.” Tully is also a counselor of sorts, and gets Marlo to open up about the communication divide with her own husband. Tully even convinces Marlo that she needs a night out on the town to decompress.

That’s when I started to find the movie kooky. On expedition, there comes some head-spinning surprises plot-wise to Reitman’s film, but those things made me question the soundness of three or four earlier scenes. I grumbled over a number of things that had happened earlier. I realized, for one, doesn’t Drew ever want to meet and interview the night nanny who clandestinely goes upstairs and downstairs all night long in his own home?

I found a lot to appreciate, and as a parent myself it was worth watching because I shared a knowingness about Marlo. I think it would have been a better movie had it gotten rid of all that plot flimflam which serves as a distraction to what had been at the point a very good movie.

96 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “Parenthood” (1989); “Angie” (1994); “Juno” (2007); “Young Adult” (2011).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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