Playing in the Rose Theatre or Rosebud Cinema
|Thu, 5/17||4:00, 6:30|
In TULLY, the third collaboration between director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody, Charlize Theron plays Marlo, a suburban mom with two kids who’s about to give birth to her third. Offhand, it would be hard to think of another movie that dug into the messy, overwhelming, how-the-hell-am-I-gonna-get-through-this? aspects of motherhood the way that this one does.
Theron’s performance is fearless, emotionally raw, and physically intense, rippled with embattled waves of exhaustion and anger. After her infant daughter, Mia, is born, Marlo is still carrying her baby weight (the way that mothers in movies almost never do). But more than that she’s carrying the weight of the world. Theron gives a heroically unglamorous and knife-edged performance, lashing out in ways both big and small. She lets us see how doing so makes perfect sense for a woman who is starting to feel the act of giving life — and sustaining it — draining the life out of her.
Marlo’s husband, Drew (Ron Livingston), is an ineffectual nice guy who does “what he can,” but that isn’t really much. He works hard at his career, helps the other children with their homework, and unwinds playing video games. He’s clueless, like so many husbands, about the way his wife’s existence has turned into a pressure cooker, and Reitman orchestrates an ingeniously extended montage of baby care (the waking and feeding and changing of diapers that’s so constant it begins to feel like a conspiracy of sleep deprivation) to put the audience right in the middle of it.
Then Tully (Mackenzie Davis) arrives, a night nanny who’s been offered to Marlo as a gift from her wealthy brother (Mark Duplass). For a while, Marlo resists the offer, but after a few weeks of baby care break her down, she gives in and calls. And the young woman who shows up at the door is like a nanny from heaven.
Tully, for a good while, doesn’t do anything terribly exotic — she’s like an extremely hip postpartum doula. But as her blissed-out ministrations bring Marlo back to life, the audience can’t help but wonder: What’s the catch? Without one, there would be no drama; there would be no movie. Without revealing the catch, I’ll just say that the first clue arrives when Tully volunteers to spice up Marlo’s sex life by sleeping with her husband, and the plan, unlikely as it sounds, works out swimmingly.
She convinces Marlo to take a night off, driving with her to Marlo’s old stomping ground of Bushwick for a girls’ night out. The two drink bourbon, bang heads in a mosh pit, and wind up in a punk-hellhole bathroom draining Marlo’s breasts of milk, so that she’s not in pain. Women who are mothers may feel like they’ve never seen a scene like this one before; it hits a note of naked truth. Theron’s performance is something to see.
R, 96 min.
"A bitingly funny, deeply emphatic ode to motherhood." - Film Journal International