‘Tully’ deftly portrays the dark side of motherhood


Andy Moser

Charlize Theron has taken on a diverse range of roles over the course of her career—a gritty rebellious heroine (Mad Max: Fury Road), infamous serial killer Aileen Wuornos (Monster), and a smooth-talking badass secret agent (Atomic Blonde), to name a few. In Tully, she’s Marlo, an utterly exhausted mom doing her best to manage life with a family of three.

With Marlo’s noted history of depression, her brother (Mark Duplass) gives her the number of a night nanny named Tully (Mackenzie Davis) to help take care of her new baby and allow her to get some rest. The situation is a little weird to Marlo at first, but she comes around fairly quickly after she realizes that Tully is a superhero and a godsend. Tully helps fulfill all of Marlo’s “supermom” fantasies. She bakes cupcakes for her kids’ school, cleans the house and takes great care of Marlo’s new baby daughter. Meanwhile, Marlo is rejuvenated after finally getting the sleep she needs, but there’s something about Tully that seems so familiar yet so foreign that Marlo will need to identify in order to get through life without her.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5D3O4yCmCg[/embedyt]

The film, directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult) thoughtfully tackles the often-experienced-but-rarely-depicted ugliness of motherhood. Marlo is tired. All the time. She’s stressed beyond belief, and she begins to fear the repetitive sameness of her life. She becomes hyper aware of her age and dearly misses her youthful eccentricity. This version of being a mom has gotten the pop culture treatment in recent years, which, while empowering to see in mainstream media, can sometimes neglect how damaging overextension can be without proper care from others and from the self.

Tully doesn’t shy away, and instead shines a harrowing spotlight on postpartum depression. Marlo is a supermom, but that doesn’t mean she has to do everything alone, and it certainly doesn’t mean she doesn’t get to ask for help. Theron, as great as she’s ever been, embodies the darkness and the light to show that we are always more powerful than we may believe, and that strength doesn’t have to exist without relief.

Sails: 4.5/5


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