UK Release Date 6th May 2018
Director REITMAN
Runtime 95 mins
Certificate 15
Reviewer Jo
Reviewed 14th May 2018

Isn’t childbirth wonderful? The gift of being able to bring little ones into the world, to give life and to watch them grow, a real joy indeed. Once the joyful bundle is created then of course the woman must get her figure back (snap back no less according to some very kind women’s magazines), and re-join the world thankful for her wonderful gift to it and not at all affected by the, sometimes, hellish experience her body has been through. Well quite. The problem is, that reality very rarely adds to up like that and the latest film from Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody, Tully, tackles that marvellously head-on in a way I haven’t seen cimematically before. 

Reitman teams up again with his Juno scribe Diablo Cody and his Young Adult leading lady Charlize Theron, this time playing Marlo, a 40 something HR worker who is about to drop her third child and is just, oh, so very tired. Marlo and husband Drew live an OK existence in an OK, messy, drab house with their daughter and son who seems to have an undiagnosed hyperactivity/OCD disorder. A scene in the car where her son is repeatedly kicking her seat and her daughter is screaming made me feel sick with recognition and understanding, it is just so well played. 

At night Marlo collapses into bed whilst Drew puts on headphones and play video games. Marlo’s drab existence is underlined aggressively in a bright yellow highlighter and black pen when they go visit her rich older brother Craig and his beautiful girlfriend in their beautiful glass house and their nanny. Craig makes Marlo waddle downstairs to see his newly built Tiki Bar that he thought she’d love (!) and to offer her the gift of a night nanny. Marlo is horrified and resistant but after a week of monotony and utter exhaustion she gives in and rings the nanny. Tully appears tapping lightly on the door like a sprite at 10:30pm whilst Marlo is watching a porn reality show called Gigolos. Tully is young, thin and free spirited, everything Marlow was once a upon a baby free time and she performs a near Mary Poppins like miracle for Marlo; “I can see colour again" Marlo whispers to Tully at one point and I for one burst into tears, so chillingly accurate those words are. 

Diablo Cody’s scripts have always been ones I have adored, her way with language is laugh out loud funny, often unsettling and strange in a comforting way. Tully is a straight up shiny hippy with a dark side. Everyone else around Marlo seems to talk about her behind her back whereas Tully just says it like it is. She makes cupcakes and cleans the house and restores order to the most worrying part in the household – Marlo’s mind. The film, like Marlo, veers towards becoming a little unhinged and there is a plot point that will marmite viewers but for me, when the film is taken as a whole it is wonderful. 

Charlize Theron is resplendent as Marlo. A woman so tired and sad it drips from her every pore and I associated with her so much it hurt.  Her overweight body is broken (Theron gained 50 pounds for the role), her face tells the story of a thousand sleepless nights and forgotten dreams. Mackenzie Davis has a wonderful energy as Tully and the film pokes fun at the ‘sexy nanny tries to steal husband cliché’, it very nearly doesn’t pull it off but it got it away for me. The women are in great company with Ron Livingston and Mark Duplass as husband and brother respectively. Both characters are similar looking and both seemingly worried about Marlo from afar. Drew says to his wife "I just want my sister back, its like her light for turned off" meanwhile he is showing her his Tikki bar and his wife has a dog called Prosecco. There is a scene when Drew apologises to Marlo that is so beautifully played by Livingston even I wanted to sleep with him. All of the cast are, frankly, perfect, and it is all steered beautifully by the brilliant Reitman. It’s been seven years since Young Adult but it was well worth the wait.

In brief:

Tully is such an important film I almost want to insist new mothers watch it. I had unprescribed PND with my second child and felt completely unsupported and alone. This is the advice currently in the Royal College of psychiatrists: 

“Over half of new mothers will experience the 'baby blues'. This usually starts 3 to 4 days after birth. You may have mood swings. You may burst into tears easily. You can feel irritable, low and anxious at times. You may also over-react to things.  It usually stops by the time your baby is about 10 days old. Women with baby blues do not need treatment. If it continues for more than 2 weeks, tell your health visitor or GP. They can check whether you have PND”

Oh OK then! What great advice, the patronising tone (crying because your baby won’t latch on and you’re terrified he or she will die because it’s 4am and you haven’t slept for 100 years is NOT overreacting). I tried to talk to my doctor who was keen to get me on anti-depressants. I was not and was told there was a 6-month waiting list for therapy. Huh, I thought, well in 6 months if I haven’t killed myself everything should be fine! I digress here but films such as  Tully are important and need to be made and seen because mental health is important and motherhood isn’t always a Pampers ad, it can be a dangerous time.  So, if you have are having, have had or indeed have ever been a baby, I suggest you go see Tully. 

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