An Original Look at Motherhood and Mental Health
Starring: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass, Ron Livingston
Written by Diablo Cody
Directed by Jason Reitman
For Marlo (Charlize Theron), the birth of her third child marks an exhausting time. She already has a high needs, neural atypical child and a daughter with a rapidly expanding mind. Her husband Craig is not particularly supportive around the home and constantly on the road with his business.
At the end of her tether, and at the behest of her hipster brother, Marlo hires Tully, a ‘night nanny’ who takes care of her baby for a few hours while she sleeps. Tully, a manic and quirky woman in her own right, helps Marlo survive and thrive under trying circumstances, but there are some aspects to her character that eventually reveal themselves as disturbing.
Diablo Cody’s scripts (Juno, Young Adult) are known for being quirky and yet insightful. Here, the tone that was prevalent throughout her prior work is still ever present. Tully skewers a number of aspects of contemporary parenting and expectations that are placed on modern parents in a way that embraces laughing at the cringe-worthiness of it all.
What’s more impressive yet is the way that parenthood is shown on screen in a warts-and-all way. Marlo is portrayed in all of her exhaustion, dealing with a constantly increasing pile of nappies and the constant stress of making the impossible balance.
All of this material is ably delivered by Tully’s cast. With her portrayal of Marlo, Charlize Theron adds more to an already impressive variety of roles, demonstrating impeccable comedic timing. Mackenzie Davis’ portrayal of Tully bolsters her already impressive resume, including a well-regarded episode of Black Mirror.
Apart from the offbeat humour that is something of a trademark, Tully’s deft handling of very serious topics means it stands out from other films. While the exact way that it deals with the new mother’s mental health was the topic of some controversy in the United States, the fact that the film tackles its subject matter at all is a hopeful sign that these issues will garner attention at all. In de-romanticising new motherhood, Tully somehow finds new ways to celebrate mothers for their sacrifices.
Tully is now available on DVD/Blu Ray and digital home release.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor