Tully

Year: 2018
Directed By: Jason Reitman
Cast: Charlize Theron, Mark Duplass, Ron Livingston, Mackenzie Davis

Written by Fiona Underhill

This is going to be a hard review for me to write because I felt this film on a deeply personal level and objectivity is going out of the window. I do think this film will be viewed by those who have experienced motherhood (yes, not parenthood) in a very different way to those who haven’t.

‘Tully’ is director Jason Reitman’s third collaboration with writer Diablo Cody (after ‘Juno’ and ‘Young Adult’) and his second with Charlize Theron (‘Young Adult’). Reitman has been something of an uneven writer-director and usually quite divisive with critics. I have generally been a fan of his work and he does seem to have been particularly successful when teamed with Cody.

Tully follows Marlo (Theron) after the birth of her third child. Her rich brother Craig (Mark Duplass) suggests Marlo and her husband Drew (one of my favourite actors; Ron Livingston) get a ‘night nanny’ – someone to come in at night and help with the baby so the parents can get some rest. This seems a flawed idea to me, if the mother is breast-feeding, but the realism of the situation kind of isn’t the point of the film. Marlo eventually caves and hires Tully (another one of my favourites; Mackenzie Davis) and finds a new lease of life, waking up to a clean kitchen and freshly-baked cupcakes.

Theron has had quite a year; with the successfulAtomic Blonde and the pretty woeful ‘Gringo’. Tully is another physical transformation for her (which led to her Oscar success with ‘Monster’) although I’m not sure how much is prosthetics here. It is an incredible performance, quite apart from the physical side. Theron effectively communicates a mother barely holding it together, despite the pressures from her kids’ school and comparing herself to her perfect brother. I adore Mackenzie Davis. She has given some great performances on TV in ‘Halt & Catch Fire’ and ‘Black Mirror’ (San Junipero) and in rom-coms ‘That Awkward Moment’ and ‘What If’ and she is equally fantastic here. The dynamics between the two women as they form a close bond is at the heart of this film, and they have great chemistry.

All I can say is that the details that Cody and Reitman have captured of motherhood (especially of having a newborn baby) are painfully real and relatable. I cried several times during the film, as Marlo was doused in a juice cup, dealt with tantrums from her older children and examined her postnatal body. The house was recognisable as a real, lived-in house and her relationship with her husband felt  authentic also. It is rare to find a film that you feel speaks to your experience so accurately and for this reason, I was pretty destroyed by the end.

The plot does not go in a predictable direction, for a film dealing with a young, attractive nanny coming into the home of a older couple. Despite managing to avoid all Infinity War spoilers before seeing it, I did have ‘Tully’ spoiled for me on Twitter and this did affect my experience of watching the film. The ending will not be to everyone’s taste and I can also see people having an issue with the depiction of mental health in the film. However, there are not many films that have touched on the madness-inducing exhaustion of having a newborn or on postnatal depression – topics that it’s important we discuss as a society.

It’s difficult to say much more about this film without spoiling it and I do recommend that you go in knowing as little as possible. As I have said, I believe you will find this a very different experience depending on how much you can relate to Marlo. For me, it was an extremely well written and well acted film that spoke to me on a deeply personal level. But, I can fully understand other people not getting the same things from it. I also think the ending will prove controversial and will colour your view of the film as a whole. Definitely worth seeing, so you can make up your own mind!

FIONA’S RATING:

4

 

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Watch This Space: October 26 – November 1

Welcome to your weekly go-to film guide – WatchThisSpace – where we recommend what to watch in the cinema and on the television, and remind you of those brilliant films hiding in your DVD collection. This week, it’s all about spooks and scares, as we celebrate Hallowe’en!

IN THE CINEMA

It’s seemed like an eternity since the cinematic release date for ‘Spectre’ was announced, but the time is finally here! James Bond’s return to the big screen promises to be fantastic. Cast and crew have all claimed that this is the most ambitious Bond film of all time, in terms of scale and stunts. This may also be the final time that Daniel Craig will be starring as Britain’s best suave, super-spy, so we’re hoping this will be a fitting end to arguably the best Bond era there has ever been.

ON THE TV

Seeing as though it’s Hallowe’en this week (and given the fact that this is an awful week for films on television), we’ve decided to give you a run down of the best spooky films on offer on the 31st.

16:55 GMT: They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky. They’re altogether ooky. The Addams Family! At least that’s all I needed to get in the mood to watch this one! Watch the playful, family friendly, ‘The Addams Family’ on Film4 this afternoon.

18:00 GMT: Simply a classic in the genre of all things ghoulish, ‘Ghostbusters’ is a must watch this Hallowe’en on Comedy Central. It will make for some pleasant family afternoon viewing before the really scary stuff starts later on at night. So make the most of it whilst you can!

21:00 GMT: One of many adaptations of Bram Stoker’s famous fictional vampire, but 1992’s ‘Dracula’ is regarded by many as one of the best. Starring Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves under the direction of Francis Ford Coppola, this star studded adaptation hits all the right notes for a spooky night in. Tune in to Film4 for this classic horror/romance.

22:00 GMT: Undoubtedly one of the “big three”, ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ is more than a match for the ‘Halloween’ and ‘Friday the 13th’ franchises, in definitively classic Halloween Horror movies, with plenty of sequels out of which to make a malicious movie marathon. Don’t miss Freddy Kruger at his filthiest on Dave and make sure to tuck in the covers extra tight! A near-perfect Halloween weekend picture.

22:25 GMT: Drew Goddard’s ‘The Cabin In The Woods’ is a film which has really divided audiences down the years. Some praise the originality, whilst others call it completely ridiculous and nonsensical. It’s a film that certainly ticks the boxes in terms of scares, gore and monsters but the plot is pretty far fetched. If you can open up your imagination and get involved in the narrative, head to Channel 5 tonight and get behind the sofa!

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

Creep: Not the Radiohead documentary we’ve all been craving. Instead, a delightfully dark, found-footage thriller, starring the terrific two man duet of Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice. When a videographer answers a Craigslist ad for a one-day shoot in a remote mountain town, he finds his client is not at all what he initially seems. A tremendously unnerving indie picture, that debuted out of 2014’s SXSW Film Festival, ‘Creep’ is a must-watch for anybody who likes Duplass’ work, and is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat!

Phantom Of The Opera: The 2004 film adaption of the masterpiece musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and French Novel, Le Fantôme de l’Opéra. A tremendous box-office success, ‘Phantom Of The Opera’, is delightfully mysterious, spooky, and musically inclined. Although panned by critics, this horror drama, directed by Joel Schumacher, is entertaining nonetheless for fans of the classic tale. Catch Gerard Butler in his best pre-spartan role, and dwell in the fantastic sets, magnificent costumes, great art direction, and imaginative camera work that will immerse you in such a dangerous time!

The Purge: You know the annoying guy in your office who’s always bragging about how great life is? Or the jerk that cuts you off in traffic with a stupid smirking face? Well, it’s time for payback. Release your vicious angst and vengeful thoughts with this horrifyingly wicked, mischievously original concept – for 24 hours, once every year, there is no law. Find out how truly terrifying it can be when there is no way to protect yourself and your family with this underrated hit.

Slumdog Millionaire: Danny Boyle’s new biopic, ‘Steve Jobs’, premiered in London this week, to a widely warm reception, with it already being tipped for academy awards. One of Boyle’s most celebrated films, by audiences and critics alike, was the 2008 smash hit, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. If you’re done with frights and trick or treaters, this winner of 8 Academy Awards, is perfect. The film follows Jamal (Dev Patel), who is arrested under suspicion of cheating his way to a fortune on India’s favourite game show, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. The film takes you on a journey through every walk of life across India, from the grand palaces and the Taj Mahal to the criminal undergrounds where human traffickers rule the cities. This moving and breathtaking film is an absolute must see if you haven’t already.

This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Nick Deal and Patrick Alexander.