Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass
Running time: 96 mins
Hell, as they say, is other people and nowhere is that more true than when it comes to motherhood. Other people’s expectations, other people’s well meaning interference, other people’s constant judgement.
Charlize Theron plays Marlo, heavily pregnant with her accidentally conceived third child, whose day is spent dealing with the demands of family life, including the special needs of her son. Jonah is not diagnosed with anything specific but is frequently described as ‘quirky’ by his teachers, friends and even his father. Marlo passively sits, eyes glazed, while Jonah’s teacher criticises him, passing strangers nag her about caffeine and a former roommate pities her, before heading off to dinner with her brother and his perfect family life. He suggests that as a gift to her, he pay for a night nanny – someone who comes into the house at night to look after the baby while Marlo gets some rest. Marlo refuses.
Once the baby is born, however, exhaustion increases as Marlo’s confidence and ability to deal with life decreases.
Seriously, do not watch this if you’re expecting a child.
Theron is excellent as Marlo, portraying the indignities and horrifying realities of new motherhood. There is no glow, no rose-tinted spectacles here. The baby shrieks into every scene, Marlo collapses on the sofa while the children play around her. She gets up every night, standing on Lego is a matter of course while her husband sleeps oblivious to the noise. When Jonah spills his drink on her and she removes her t-shirt, they ask “Mum what happened to your body?” Seriously, do not watch this if you’re expecting a child.
Into this comes Tully, the night nanny, there to help look after them all. She cleans, makes cupcakes, allows Marlo to rest and becomes a confidante.
Tully has been classed as a comedy-drama and there are a few wry laughs. However, this is a deep exploration of motherhood, isolation and mental health. At its heart is a woman trying to recapture her sense of self in a world where people forget how much recovery is needed for both body and mind, following the ‘everyday’ miracle of childbirth.
Did you know? Charlize Theron gained over 50 pounds for the role by eating a diet of junk food, macaroni cheese and milkshakes. It took her a year and a half to shed the weight after filming had finished.
Tully is in cinemas now