Now that I'm in my early thirties, I've gotten to that point where friends of mine have had to deal with the extra burden of responsibilities with children. Much of their original time of playing video games or streaming the next great show on Netflix has been replaced with making sure their baby will fall asleep and simply trying to get them to stop crying. It's just a fact of life that your amount of free time shrinks once you get older, get married, and try to live the suburban dream. The tradeoff of having more love is sacrificing optimism.
Now I'm not talking about optimism for the world; I mean optimism for yourself. When you're younger, you have dreams of making something or at least finding something that make you happy. Adding a lover, home, children, job, hobbies, bills and much more are going to take up more of that time, thus, diminishing that sensibility that was previously available. Even when operating on the most minimal of emotions to get through life, what does that do to ones mental state. Like a lot of things, it depends on the person. We get to see and exploration of that upon one mother in Tully.
You really have to admire women like Marlo (played by Charlize Theron). Along with being pregnant with another child, she has to deal with her two children (one of them implied to have autism) and a husband Mark (Played by Mark Duplass) who seems to be living in a delusion that everything is fine. Unlike a lot of movies where mothers can still look beautiful, Marlo has been beaten down by life's burdens; early morning struggles to get her children to school, parent-teacher meetings about her son, finding anytime just to get a frozen pizza in the oven and not having a moment to workout.
When she finally gives birth to her new daughter Mia, she's pushed even further into a deep depression (a combination of post partum and regular). She finally caves in and accepts her brother's gift of a night nanny. Tully (played by Mackenzie Davis) arrives soon enough and is overjoyed to be caring for a baby. She also has interesting conversations with Marlo from astronomy to history and music. Having this new friend gives Marlo the extra boost to try harder as a mom. Things take an unexpected turn in the last act that I wont give away.
Tullyreunites the directing team of Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody (who had previously worked together on Junoand Young Adult). The previous movies examined the anxieties of entering adulthood while this looks at what is to come with that next step. Tullyis not a pretty movie and it knows this. Tullyis proud to break down a lot of the tropes that typically show motherhood as a happy time. I'll admit that I've seen other movies that have done this before, but something about the look and writing make it downright scary.
A lot of it has to do with Charlize Theron's performance. Tullyis more proof that she has to be one of the hardest working actresses in Hollywood. To see her go from an action star from Mad Max: Fury Roadand Atomic Blondeto a bloated and fat mother shows hoe much she's willing to understand within a character. I could somehow feel that same amount of stress that she had with her tired eyes. Think of it like constantly being out of breath despite having a hundred other chores to get to. I have to give a lot of credit to Mackenzie Davis, but I cannot go into too much detail without spoiling it.
A lot of this movie deals with nostalgia and escape. It understands that many people too have been beaten down by the darker side of life and would love to return to a time of innocence. What Tullydoes (again, no spoilers) will throw off a lot of people with that they get. I'll admit that while I like how things go, I still think that keeping things more grounded would have benefited the third act more to come in full circle. Otherwise, this remains a good story on motherhood.
I'll give this four pairs of pregnancy pants out of five. I think the movie's biggest strength comes from it's script rather then it's directing. Diablo Cody has a talent for breaking down a lot of the tropes within characters others want to be and making them more honest. I don't think Tully is a masterpiece or even one of the better Jason Reitman movies, but anyone whose ever been a parents should have no problem relating to Tully.