Motherhood is no joke but the insanity of it all gives way to a tragicomedy of sorts.
Featuring the most straightforward and un-cinematic birthing scene of all time, Tully gives audiences a brutally honest look at motherhood, where there’s no histrionics whatsoever that Marlo just walks into a crowded emergency room and her husband tells a nurse that they’re having a baby.
Moments like this fill the film as Marlo deals with the unglamorous side of motherhood as she juggles the needs of a kid in the autism spectrum, a newborn baby, and managing a home. It doesn’t help that her husband is useless around the house and her rich brother’s married life highlights the dullness of her own. Jason Reitman makes a montage of sleepless nights, diaper changes, and breast pumps that plenty of parents will surely relate.
This is apart from the other anxiety and scream-inducing moments that are dropped along the way, relaying emotional struggles that are often unseen.
The film states these facts without being melodramatic – the mind-numbing sameness of family life, strangers who casually judge your choices, a stalled career that may never be revived, the pre-baby body that’s expected to be regained and priorities that end up overshadowing everything.
Fortunately for Marlo, her brother enlists a night nanny – a Millennial Mary Poppins to save the day. Young, wide-eyed, slender, and openhearted, Tully is an all-in-one solution for her and her marriage.
Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis have great chemistry here. Diablo Cody injects their dialogues with one-liners, but overall it’s the kind that comes with maturity and experience. Performances are great all-around that even if it’s not easy to hide Theron’s good looks, she’s committed enough to the role that it sells.
While Tully does manage to portray the un-Hollywoodified version of motherhood, the movie is weighed down by clunky plot points and predictable twist.
By the time Tully comes into the scene, there are no stakes or issues that need to be resolved. It’s hinted that Marlo was diagnosed with postpartum depression after Jonah’s birth yet for some reason people around her didn’t feel the need to re-assess her mental health after an unplanned pregnancy. Or you know, simply ask if she’s okay and not one step away from having a nervous breakdown.
The movie eventually has to fess up its intentions and uses a plot twist that may not go well with some people. It isn’t handled well that the benevolent mystery is predictable, unconvincing, and ends up as a gimmicky plot device.
Still, Tully excels in highlighting the fact that motherhood is treated as such a duty for women that mothers are left to suffer without anyone noticing its claustrophobic and isolating effects, and the lies they need to tell to stay sane.
Tully's brutal yet wise honesty makes it a visceral and emphatic portrait of motherhood.