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Film review: Tully

Film & TV

The highs and lows of pregnancy and motherhood are explored in the beautifully raw new film Tully, starring Charlize Theron.

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Written by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman (the creative duo behind the independent coming-of-age film Juno and comedy-drama Young Adult), Tully sees Theron playing Marlo, an exhausted mother of three struggling to juggle the demands of her growing family.

Between sleepless nights with her newborn daughter, trouble at her son’s school and the increasing pressure of her husband’s job, Marlo is barely keeping her head above water.

When her well-off brother suggests she hire a night nanny, she is initially reluctant to let a stranger in her house, but offbeat young Tully proves to be a breath of fresh air and the two soon form a unique bond that extends beyond Marlo’s children.

Theron delivers an incredible performance as Marlo, whose physical and emotional struggles will resonate with both new and seasoned mothers, while Ron Livingston plays husband Drew, a man trying to reconcile his ever-changing roles as husband and father. Canadian actress Mackenzie Davis – previously seen in films including Blade Runner 2049 – is a joy to watch as Tully, whose observations about parenting are surprisingly wise and enlightening.

Drawing on her own experiences of parenting, Cody uses light-hearted humour to create a refreshingly honest film which refuses to whitewash motherhood. Her exploration of issues including post-natal depression, isolation, family and identity are beautifully interwoven with complex characters and told from varying perspectives through an intelligent script.

The result is an emotionally rich, multi-layered and poignant exploration of parenting and the pressures it brings. There is a dramatic turn which at first seems to risk undermining the film’s foundations, but ultimately Tully is all the more powerful for it.

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