Saturday, 5 May 2018

Tully Film Review: A Magical Mermaid And Mary Poppins Fantasy - With Breast Pumps

I loved Juno by writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman; stuffed full of soon to be Oscar winning actors, it was the sweet story of a young girl's unplanned pregnancy. And with Tully that I saw yesterday, they again explore pregnancy, but this time it's Charlize Theron's third, and motherhood is grinding her down. She's lost touch with old friends, and her life is so much smaller.

Charlize's Marlo is due any day, feeling like the infamous trash barge that paddled up and down the coast of America waiting to offload. And during these last few days of pregnancy, life is anything but calm. Son Jonah, played by Asher Miles Fallica is 'quirky', I guess autistic or on the spectrum, and requiring special needs at his select school, the school won't pay for it, but they love Tully's family. Well actually they love the money showered on them by Marlo's wealthy brother Craig, and are prepared to take Marlo's children because of it. Daughter Sarah is quiet and husband Drew loving, but not very helpful. Played by Lia Frankland and the always great Ron Livingston, they make a happy family.

Dinner one evening with brother Craig and his wife Elyse, played by Mark Duplass and Elaine Tan, is an eye-opener. With three kids their wealthy life is one of order and calm. The kids even eat sea urchins. Where's the chicken nuggets asks Jonah. And one daughter's talent at the school talent show is: pilates. Sensing her exhaustion Craig, as a baby gift, offers to hire a Night Nanny for Marlo like they used. She will come in overnight to look after the baby when Mum gets some sleep. Sounds great, and Marlo takes the number Craig offers her. But she and Drew aren't convinced.

When the beautiful baby girl is born, labour, and the aftermath, is not pretty, life gets harder for Marlo with this new baby to care for night and day, and still trying to manage the house. Until a spectacularly bad meeting at the school when Jonah is expelled, and now with him screaming in the car, Marlo reaches for the phone to call the Night Nurse.

It's a big decision handing over the care of Mia to a stranger, but Mackenzie Davis's Tully is perfect; bright, composed and every home needs one. She cleans the house overnight, bakes cupcakes and makes sure that Marlo can function as a person, as well as a mother and wife. She brings Mia to the bedroom for Marlo to feed her in bed, this Mary Poppins character leaving time for Marlo to dream of mythical mermaids.

Dinner is now a relaxed occasion with Marlo having the time and energy to prepare a proper dinner. No more frozen pizzas slammed on the table. She can focus on the other children, karaoke with Sarah and finding Jonah a lovely new school with a sensitive teacher. She even finds time to start taking care of her body, going back to jogging, while her breasts still leak milk.

Tully even adds spice to Marlo and Drew's love life, and Marlo is soon spending night times chatting with her new friend. They like the same music and drink the same Bourbon. She really is exactly what Marlo needed. And then one night Tully suggests they go out, leave Drew home alone with the kids. Marlo throws caution to the wind on this wild evening in Brooklyn, her old stamping ground. But Tully needs to tell Marlo it's time for her to leave.

Although the film was billed as a comedy, it's a very dark humour and was more of a suburban mommy family horror. Motherhood is tough, and Charlize Theron throws herself into the role. She's not afraid to show the imperfections of life. And the 50lbs she gained to play Marlo she says was fun to add, crisps!, but difficult to lose. Just like most normal mums and women. The performance ranks as a Best Actress nomination for her at the 2019 Oscars with Mackenzie maybe Best Supporting. A terrific film by Jason Reitman and brilliant, if disturbing script, by Diablo Cody.

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