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“Tully” surprised the hell out of me. After “Juno”, I was quick to write off Diablo Cody. After the last five years, I was even faster to write off Jason Reitman. So, why did teaming them back up for a third time suddenly work? I think it has to do with the concept of a night nurse. For those that don’t know, a night nurse is a woman who comes in the middle of night to take of a newborn. While once considered a job that only the wealthy deployed, many new mothers are hiring them for a bit of sanity. If a night nurse makes the difference between a healthy household and shoving a kid in the oven, then we should all have a Tully.

Yet, the film tries to turn this concept into something. Basically, Mackenzie Davis arrives as a younger version of Charlize Theron. Seeing an unspoiled version of yourself while battling postpartum depression might not be the best thing. What it does do is allow you to put things into perspective. The easy comparison would be to say that this is a postmodern Mary Poppins. While it’s simplistic and helps to align with a cultural touchstone, it’s not true. Tully isn’t that happy.

The problems that Charlize Theron faces in this film go beyond being a mother. Theron’s Marlo is unfulfilled woman looking to her family, husband, rich brother, long-lost love and new night nurse to give her a sense of identity. As time goes on and she’s left with more time to dwell upon herself, she realizes that she isn’t the person she wanted to be. Films of yesteryear would force a conclusion to this arc. I appreciate that Cody and Reitman choose to let that self-doubt linger.

Naturally, the mommy bloggers and mental health advocates are in an uproar. They should be and I’d be surprised if they weren’t enraged. Not every thing is going to be positive, affirming and wrapped up. Sometimes, people need a moment to contemplate their lives. That’s why there is Tully.


  • 1 hr and 36 mins
  • R
  • Focus Features


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