Magazine article Screen International

'Tully': Sundance Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Tully': Sundance Review

Article excerpt

Jason Reitman directs Charlize Theron as a harried mother of three


Dir. Jason Reitman. USA. 2018. 94mins

In Tully, a mysterious young nanny lessens the burden of motherhood for an overwrought housewife. In what begins as a bitter household comedy, their bond sees postpartum misery take a graceful turn.

Theron will put to rest any doubts about her feel for comedy; the darker the better.

Charlize Theron will be the initial draw for audiences, and her face on the poster could launch Tully into a serious ride internationally following its Sundance play in the surprise screening slot inhabited last year by the Oscar-nominated Get Out. This is director Jason Reitman’s third collaboration with screenwriter Diablo Cody, following Juno (2007) and Young Adult (2011), and fans of their work should revel in this journey into family life on the far side of Juno; if that film was the story of a teen pregnancy without marriage, Tully is marriage with just enough sex to fall pregnant. Parents of young children - the film’s most obvious demographic - are perhaps less likely to see the film in cinemas, however, so VOD prospects could be strong.

Tully opens with Marlo (Theron) nine months pregnant and begging to unload. Of her two other children one, Jonah (Asher Miles Fallica), has a challenging case of what seems to be Asperger’s Syndrome, and Marlo’s husband Drew (Ron Wilkinson) shirks child care to nurse a video game addiction. To top it all off, Jonah gets tossed out of a prestigious private school for being “quirky”.

After she gives birth to her daughter, Mia, Marlo rejects an offer from her rich brother (Mark Duplass) to pay for a night nanny who would care for the baby and help regularise her sleep. Everyone is doing it, she’s told. She relents after Mia cries almost as much as she poops. To say that Theron isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty in this domestic hell is an understatement. “I feel like an abandoned trash barge,” she laments, as mess and clutter accumulates, driving the point home.

The comedy pivots with the arrival of Tully (Mackenzie Davis, Blade Runner 2049), a free spirit of 26 years-old with a bare midriff and a carefree ease. …

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