In recent years Charlize Theron has played characters that suit a persona that audiences have pushed onto her since ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’. This is the portrayal of strong, honest female characters and here is no different. In ‘Tully’, Theron plays Marlo, mother of (soon to be) three and the film follows her life as a mother in all its ruthless honesty. If you are a woman who is on the fence about kids this film may just steer your opinion. Realising her stresses, her brother suggests the couple hire a night nanny to help with the baby so Marlo can find herself again.
Crucially Theron’s portrayal of the sometimes zombified Marlo and the toll of being a mother with difficult children is outstanding. With the core emotional impact of the plot resting on her performance and the audience being allowed to enter her emotional state. It’s certainly a story that many people (specifically mothers) may connect with and ‘Juno’ director Jason Reitman fully understands this in ‘Tully’. He returns to his unbridled fascination with pregnancy and depicts an honesty about woman and what they go through that you maybe would not expect from a male director. But gone is the laissez-faire attitude of ‘Juno’, ‘Tully’ is different. It’s bare and raw with an emotional undertone of numerous deep seeded issues and discussions. Though they are only ever explored half way, going through tonal shifts like the rocking of a boat the film never figures out exactly what it wants to say. Losing whatever discussion it was attempting to have by the final act. Failing to capitalise on its own presentations and characters it fades off into half measured ideas.
The observations and insightful messages are poignant none the less, Tully never lets up on its distressing, working class hero atmosphere. The writing is sharp, giving us a good sense of each and every character decisively. Marlo aside the writing alludes to depth but it’s clear to see that most characters are written with a clear-cut purpose without much more to them making any interaction outside of Marlo’s – dull. Successfully the film still manages to not be taxing on the viewer, there are certainly moments of humour and a light hearted middle act, but one that unfortunately loses the timely pacing established so far. Meandering along in a limbo of weak character building in which you aren’t quite sure where the film is taking its plot. In a way it is still fresh as your expectations are never met, with it clear to see that Tully recognises a twinge of engrossing banality that reality TV usually captures. Some may find the conversations mind numbing or you may find the casual exploration of the relationship between the two characters captivating. Which, by the end of the film has a message in itself, so there is some reward to be had from its middle act.
Ultimately ‘Tully’ is a story that you are far more likely to be rewarded by if you are a parent (specifically a mother). Its raw and honest depictions, tell a somewhat engrossing story but its loose direction, tonal shifting and weak character development do little to bring a regular audience into the sometimes-confusing story it is trying to tell.
Written by Jake Young
Rating – 6/10
Question: What is your favourite film about motherhood?
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