Movie Review: TULLY (2018) – An endearing and hilariously smart look into motherhood

Published by Shah Shahid on

Director Jason Reitman returns with an impressive family drama about motherhood that is touching, endearing and hilariously smart. 

Rating: ★★★★ /5

Tully is about an overworked mother, who enlists the help of a night-nanny that ends up changing her life for the better. Marlo (Charlize Theron) has 2 kids, with one on the way, and it’s all way too much for her. Before she has an inevitable breakdown, she accepts her brother’s help in hiring a night-nanny named Tully (Mackenzie Davis). The simple act of getting enough sleep makes her miraculously become a better mother, person, wife and everything is improved over all. Or is it?

Tully is an incredible endearing look at how everyday life can weigh a person down, and how they can reconcile that and move on, or let it drag them down even further. The film touches upon the complexities of parenthood and husband-wife relationships that aren’t depicted as stereotypical or melodramatically sad, but just as truths. 

Charlize Theron as Marlo in Tully

Charlize Theron, who has mostly been seen in some amazing roles in the last few years, either as a bald warrior in Mad Max: Fury Road, or an ass kicking spy in Atomic Blonde, gives a much more subtler performance in Tully, that is just as strong as the others. 

As Marlo, a worn down mother, Theron is able to play an unflattering role, with no ego or concern about how it makes her look as a star. I can’t remember the last time I saw an actress bare so much of her soul in a performance that doesn’t rely on histrionics, emotionally articulate monologues, or other ‘acting’ moments. 

Reitman allows Theron to just be, and Marlo is that much more enhanced by that execution. Director Jason Reitman also isn’t afraid of making the audience uncomfortable. There are many sequences in Tully that are cringeworthy, but intentionally so. Moments that are rarely portrayed on screen, but are a reality of motherhood and living the kind of life that so many women do.

The movie gives even the husband the right amount of screen time and story significance. Ron Livingston is great in a smaller role that rounds out Marlo’s life. Mark Duplass is effective in the brief role he has. The breakout star of Tully has to be Mackenzie Davis. 

Mackenzie Davis & Charlize Theron in Tully

Davis’ titular Tully is the perfect opposite to Marlo’s broken down character, as she is full of life, wisdom and ideals. The chemistry between Theron and Davis is palpable and a sight to behold. The two play off of each other wonderfully. 

Surprisingly for a movie with the subject matter of Tully, it’s also pretty hilarious. The light hearted moments walk the fine line of being extremely dramatic, or at the exact same time being funny as hell. It’s a hard balancing act, but the full credit has to go to Theron for pulling off such deliveries and dialogue that come off as outrageously funny, despite not being comedic in any way. 

Tully is a must watch for movies that deal with what it means to be a mom, without stereotyping or generalizing those situations, as most films do for comedic purposes. We rarely laugh at Marlo but with her, despite what she lives through, that would otherwise invoke tears. It’s a great look at the modern day nuclear family dynamic, and how, despite progress, the traditional views of parents still very much remain the same. 

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Tully opens in theatres on May 4, 2018.

Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


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