For Charlize Theron’s performance and more, ‘Tully’ is a must-see film with a deep and sincere respect for motherhood.
As Marvel’s Infinity War signals the arrival of summer blockbuster season, a bunch of movies worth seeing will slip under your radar if you’re not careful. Tully is one of them, and it’s set for a nationwide release May 4. Listed below are five reasons it’s worth your attention.
1. Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody are back together again
Tully is directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody, and it will mark the third time this dynamic duo has collaborated. Their partnership began in 2007 with the indie darling Juno, a heartwarming film about teenage pregnancy that garnered four Oscar nominations and one victory, as the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay went to Diablo Cody. The pair didn’t wait long to work together again, as they reprised their roles as director and writer for a film called Young Adult in 2011 that starred Charlize Theron. Despite her presence, Young Adult was mostly a disappointment, as the consensus was that it failed to capture the hearts and minds of its audience the way Juno did.
Enter Tully. Not only has Charlize Theron returned to play a leading role, but the film also feels like a spiritual sequel to Juno. While Ellen Page’s star-making performance was about navigating pregnancy as a teenager, Tully tells the story of a woman named Marlo (Theron) in the throes of postpartum depression trying to balance the demands of motherhood with her own hopes and dreams.
Reitman and Cody have returned to a topic they’ve already proven they can deftly handle. Nevertheless, the premise of Tully feels like a natural evolution for the duo, a concept that’s right in their wheelhouse but still fresh and original and worth your time. Trust this creative team: They have a gift for crafting poignant moments that stick with you long after you’ve left the theater, and Tully will be no exception.
2. Charlize Theron is giving us a glimpse into her breathless range
If you’ve followed film closely over the past few years, you couldn’t have missed Charlize Theron, who’s made a name for herself playing tough, gritty characters who don’t take anything from anybody. Theron garnered heaps of well-earned praise for her fierce portrayal of Imperator Furiosa in 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, and her role as undercover M16 spy Lorraine Broughton in Atomic Blonde reminded more than a few people of a certain Agent 007.
Marlo, on the other hand, is a totally different role than the ones Theron has been taking. In Tully, her character is more open and vulnerable, and to play her in the months after her pregnancy, Theron had to undergo a physical transformation by putting on 50 pounds. What’s even more remarkable is that just last year she was training intensely to play an M16 agent in Atomic Blonde. Those two roles couldn’t be any more different, but of course she pulled them both off with aplomb. If the last several years of her career have taught us anything, it’s that her range is boundless.
3. Mackenzie Davis is making the leap from television to film
The casual moviegoer might not know Mackenzie Davis, but they will soon. Davis leapt onto the scene with AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, a show about the people behind the rise of the personal computer in the 1980s. Halt and Catch Fire started off with low viewership, but creators Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers went back into the writing room, solved its issues, and the show was reborn. Over the course of its four-season run, it became a critical hit regularly trumpeted as one of the best shows on television, and Mackenzie Davis was one of the biggest reasons why.
In Tully, Davis plays the titular character, a night nurse hired by Marlo’s brother to take some weight off her shoulders. In a role rife with potential for cliché, Davis is a tour de force, portraying Tully with authenticity, compassion, depth and wisdom beyond her years. Her resulting magnetism is only increased by the audience’s relative lack of familiarity with her, but this might be one of the last times she’ll be a blank slate to anyone. Given her stellar effort and the star turn Ellen Page took under Reitman and Cody’s watchful eyes, Mackenzie Davis may well be about to break into the mainstream.
4. It’s not a superhero movie!
Let’s be honest. For everyone besides die-hard comic book fans, superhero movies are reaching their saturation point. Amid the unrelenting barrage of blandness, DC and Marvel seem completely disinterested in innovating. It feels like they cracked the secret code, and now all they have to do is swap characters in and out and wait for the people inevitably to come. Unfortunately for the viewing public, this profitable certainty breeds boring, milquetoast flicks.
Hopefully, the recent success of Black Panther can inspire Marvel to keep pushing the boundaries. In addition to the laudable progress it made for Black representation in blockbuster superhero movies, Black Panther also felt fresh and different, as it transported its audience to a legitimately new world they hadn’t already seen on the big screen. Ahead of its release, Infinity War didn’t seem likely to build on any of these successes, and in the meantime, it complicated Tully’s release.
In fact, in an attempt not to get drowned out by all the Marvel noise, Tully’s release date was pushed from April 27 to May 4. The Tully team knows it can’t compete with Infinity War, but at least they’ve made a concerted effort to put the film in the best possible position to succeed by avoiding Marvel’s opening weekend rush to the box office. Reward their efforts and make your dollars go further this weekend by seeing Tully and proving to studios that moviegoers have an appetite for down-to-earth films about everyday people, not just flicks about superheroes.
5. Tully is a poignant reminder of how grateful we all should be for everything mothers do
Be forewarned: this film is not what it appears to be on the surface. This discussion of Tully is spoiler-free, but viewers should know the movie is darker and sadder than the cute, relatable, human moments that populate the trailer, like Marlo dropping her phone on her baby or tossing frozen pizza onto the table. However, what keeps this movie grounded throughout its ups, downs, twists and turns is a deep and sincere respect for motherhood. Reitman and Cody want the audience to understand and appreciate the depth and breadth of what women give up to be moms, whether it is their body, intimacy in their relationships, or success in their careers. These sacrifices are colossal, but they are rarely appreciated to the degree that they should be. Charlize Theron’s Marlo wears this sacrifice on her sleeve, and the audience is better for having to confront it.