Review: Tully

6 10

Originally reviewed at Sundance 2018.

PLOT: After giving birth to her third child, an overwhelmed mother, Marlo (Charlize Theron), is gifted a night nanny named Tully (Mackenzie Davis) by her rich brother (Mark Duplass). The two women soon find they have much in common, sparking a friendship that will change both of them forever.

REVIEW: Jason Reitman reteams with writer Diablo Cody for the first time since YOUNG ADULT in this comedy-drama that feels very much in the James L. Brooks-mold. It’s not a full-fledged return to form for Reitman, whose LABOR DAY and MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN were achingly sincere but fell flat, although it’s a step in the right direction.

It helps that Cody’s dialogue is as sharp as ever, with much of the film a knowing look into the life of a new family woman, who, now that she’s on maternity leave and tied to her newborn, feels she has lost all agency in her life. She yearns for her young, carefree days, while still being quite content with her nice guy husband (Ron Livingston), even if his job takes him away from home for long stretches of time.

Enter Tully, who, at first glance, seems to be that manic pixie dream girl stereotype but turns out to be much more - even though it takes awhile for this to become obvious. The acting is terrific, with Charlize Theron once again showing her easy knack for handling Cody’s dialogue. She’s like the William H. Macy to Cody’s David Mamet - they just fit. Theron tones down her movie star good look just a tad, although she’s still luminous throughout, and has an easygoing kindness about her that makes her believable as a family woman.

Davis has the tougher role, as she initially seems to be playing two-dimensional. And this is the problem with the film - it takes too long to come together after a false-feeling plot twist sends it on a strange course that takes too long to resolve. The first half is a near perfect comedy-drama, but then Tully and Marlo do something weird with the husband that seems like something out of another movie and doesn’t make any sense given what we’ve seen of the characters up to this point. As an audience member, I was stunned by how false it felt - and while it’s resolved in a way that makes sense, it takes forever for us to get there. As a result, for a good chunk of the movie I was confused at how these formerly personable characters no longer felt real. If I watched it again, I’d probably like it more given the clever resolution, but the whole payoff doesn’t really make the falseness of what came before worthwhile.

In the end, TULLY is an ambitious, well-written, well-acted movie that comes close to working - and may play better upon a second viewing. As it is though, it’s not the major return-to-form Reitman needs at this point, but he’s getting there.

Source: JoBlo.com



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