Mackenzie Davis (The Martian) is Charlize Theron's night nanny in this comedic drama from four-time Oscar-nominated director Jason Reitman and Oscar-winning writer Diablo Cody (who previously teamed up for Juno and Young Adult).... More

Marlo (Theron), a mother of three including a newborn, is gifted a night nanny by her brother (Mark Duplass, Safety Not Guaranteed). Hesitant to the extravagance at first, Marlo comes to form a unique bond with the thoughtful, surprising, and sometimes challenging young nanny named Tully (Davis).Hide

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Flicks Review

First things first, this review is not going to describe Charlize Theron as “brave” because she gained some weight for a role. Theron, a glamorous movie star, plays Marlo, mother of a newborn here, and you know what? That’s ok. Movie stars can be mums, too - in fact, Theron already is. What would have been brave, though, is if screenwriter Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman had the confidence to tell their story of an everyday woman finding it tough to juggle the demands of being a mother and wife without resorting to cheap narrative tricks - the kind that leave one exiting the cinema feeling let down by Tully’s third act.... More

Before the film gets to that point, though, it’s a grounded, sympathetic and often grimly comic portrayal of motherhood. As Marlo juggles her two school-age kids with a first pending, then present, child number three, Tully conveys the pressure on body, mind and soul brought to bear by never-ending stress and responsibilities. Easily dismissed as “normal” even as they represent enormous challenges to mums everywhere, they’re written on Theron’s face, sculpted in her posture, and carved into her mood.

She’s a mother doing it tough as Cody herself would recognise, if not Marlo's husband Drew. Ron Livingston impresses as the latter - well-meaning, loving, caring and attentive, but like many men not grasping the emotional labour of his spouse. Like Theron, it’s a very real performance, and as multiple emotions struggle to be expressed on his face towards the film’s conclusion, his mug defies you to not be moved.

Less relatable is the Tully of the title, a manic pixie night nurse played by Mackenzie Davis. Like all young, vibrant, kooky characters of this kind she’s there as much to shake Marlo’s character up for the screenwriter as to provide practical babyminding assistance. Cody’s got a reason for that tired trope that makes sense though - though it's interwoven with the aforementioned third act disappointment.

Prior to that, there’s some good stuff going on, and Cody generally restrains herself from her tendency in prior films to show off with dialogue and references (I'm OK with her slipping in a little Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains just 'cause I like it - but you couldn't resist, could you, Cody?). On balance, it’s a reasonable watch - one that's cannily timed with Mother’s Day around the corner.Hide

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The Press Reviews

  • Theron looked happier driving across a post-apocalyptic desert with a car of frightened slave girls. The terrifying former high school beauty queen she played in Young Adult would glance at Marlo and sneer. Full Review

  • Theron will put to rest any doubts about her feel for comedy; the darker the better. Full Review

  • Packed with more than a couple of possible feminist readings as regards the parenting/career/life question, the often very funny picture entertains while affording its characters their share of no-laughing-matter concerns. Full Review

  • "Tully" has its heart (and many other things) in the right place, but by the end you wish it had an imagination finely executed enough to match its empathy. Full Review

  • It's one of the more viscerally accurate portraits of parenthood, and specifically motherhood, that the movies have recently given us. Full Review

  • Ms. Theron and Ms. Davis make a pleasurable, watchable pair - Ms. Davis is obviously happy to be the moon to Ms. Theron's sun - but "Tully" isn't really interested in the sustaining joys of female bonding. Full Review

  • ...a major movie about motherhood in which Cody's signature sarcasm has deepened into anxiety, exhaustion and wisdom - she's truly becoming a voice for the ages. Full Review

  • Viewers who can relate to the subject matter may take solace in seeing their experience writ large, and those who cannot will doubtless feel grateful. Full Review

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