Tully tells the story of Marlo (Charlize Theron), a mother to two children with one on the way. Her husband, Drew (Ron Livingston) works a lot to provide for his family, leaving a lot of the caring for the children on her shoulders. Her son, Jonah (Asher Miles Fallica) is what everyone refers to as “quirky’ and requires a great deal of attention with his specific tendencies. This is a source of a lot of stress on Marlo. As she inches closer and closer to the delivery of her third child, her wealthier brother, Craig (Mark Duplass) offers to pay for a night nanny for her. A night nanny is a nanny that comes during the night time to help care for the child so that the mother can get a full night of sleep. Despite her resistance, she calls the night nanny to help her deciding it would help with getting more sleep so she can better care for herself and her children.
Once the night nanny, Tully, arrives, Marlo is slowly starting to shape back into her former self. She can care for the kids better, make lunches and be the “perfect” mother and wife. Tully is a happy and exciting 26-year old who has the world ahead of her. She is a bit offbeat but entertaining and reminds Marlo to let go and have fun a little bit. You can see a bit of Tully reflected in Marlo as they spend more and more time together.
At the crux of Tully, we have a woman struggling with taking care of her children, her husband, and herself in the midst of the demands of motherhood and adulthood. We see her grapple with the external factors such as the demands of her children’s school, cost of care for Jonah, or making cupcakes for the class. The strongly relatable characters with authentic and genuine dialogue give us a film that gets to the core struggles of motherhood and mental health.
There is some commentary rolled into the film about the differences in the classes and income. We see Marlo and her struggles to deal with her daily life in comparison to her brother, Craig, who has everything and more that he could need. The little comments at dinner about the night nanny, or about what the kids are allowed to eat, show a real disparity between the classes and therefore their access provide self-care.
Through magnificent writing, Diablo Cody brings characters brimming with emotion to the forefront of her films. Tully is no different. Charlize Theron wows as Marlo and brings out the full range of emotions of her character. Mackenzie Davis as Tully is spectacular and embodies everything we expect from a 26-year old nanny. She is kind and gentle and brings a whimsical side to an otherwise serious topic. These factors together work so well to create a genuinely poignant story in Tully that cannot be missed.