Tully (2018 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jason Reitman|
|Written by||Diablo Cody|
|Music by||Rob Simonsen|
|Edited by||Stefan Grube|
|Distributed by||Focus Features|
|Box office||$15.6 million|
Tully is a 2018 American comedy-drama film directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody. The film stars Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass, and Ron Livingston, and follows the friendship between a mother of three and her nanny. It is the fourth collaboration between Reitman and Cody, following Juno (2007), Jennifer's Body (2009), and Young Adult (2011), the last of which also starred Theron.
The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, and was released in the United States on May 4, 2018, by Focus Features. It received mostly positive reviews from critics, praising Theron and Davis's performances and the film's portrayal of parenthood, and at the 76th Golden Globe Awards and at the 24th Critics' Choice Awards, Theron was nominated for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and Best Actress in a Comedy Movie, respectively.
Marlo, a mother of two, is pregnant with an unplanned third child. Jonah, her son, has a developmental disorder that doctors have been unable to diagnose; she uses the Wilbarger Protocol to brush his skin in an attempt to reduce his sensitivity. When Marlo and her husband Drew visit her wealthy brother Craig's house for dinner, he offers to pay for a night nanny as a baby shower gift, but Marlo rebuffs him.
Marlo gives birth to a daughter she names Mia, and quickly becomes overwhelmed and exhausted. After Jonah's principal recommends that he be placed in a different school, Marlo breaks down, and she retrieves the contact information for the night nanny.
That night, Tully, the night nanny, arrives at the house. Despite an initial awkwardness, Marlo and Tully develop a close friendship over the course of several nights. Tully proves to be an exceptional nanny, cleaning the house and baking cupcakes for Jonah's class. When Marlo mentions that Drew has a fetish for women in 1950s diner waitress uniforms, Tully puts on a uniform that Marlo had previously purchased and they engage in a threesome with Drew.
One night, Tully arrives to work visibly distressed, and says that she has had a fight with her roommate due to her roommate's anger over Tully bringing home too many hook-ups. Tully impulsively suggests going into the city for a drink, to which Marlo reluctantly agrees, and the pair drive to Marlo's old neighborhood in Bushwick, Brooklyn. While at a bar, Tully suddenly tells Marlo that she can no longer work for her, explaining that she was there only to "bridge a gap" and that she feels that she is no longer needed. While driving home, Marlo falls asleep at the wheel, and swerves the car into a river.
Marlo sees herself trapped underwater, and envisions Tully as a mermaid coming to rescue her. She awakens at a hospital with Drew. A staff psychiatrist approaches Drew and informs him that Marlo was suffering from extreme sleep deprivation and exhaustion. When the doctor asks about their nanny, Drew tells her that he does not know much about her. A hospital clerk asks Drew for Marlo's maiden name, and he provides it: "Tully". Tully does not exist; Marlo imagined her from her past self aged 26 as a means to cope with stress. Marlo is visited by Tully one last time in her hospital room, where they decide that they have to stop seeing each other, and part amicably.
Marlo returns home, where Jonah tells her that she no longer needs to brush his skin. She goes to the kitchen to listen to music and prepare the kids' lunches for the next day. Drew comes in and shares the music with her as he helps her.
- Charlize Theron as Marlo Moreau
- Mackenzie Davis as Tully
- Mark Duplass as Craig Freehauf
- Ron Livingston as Drew Moreau
- Elaine Tan as Elyse
- Asher Miles Fallica as Jonah
- Lia Frankland as Sarah
Theron said she gained nearly 50 pounds (23 kg) for the role in a period of three and a half months, and ate around the clock to keep the weight on. It took her a year and a half to take the weight off after filming had wrapped.
Tully grossed $9.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $6.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $15.6 million.
In the United States and Canada, Tully was released alongside Overboard and Bad Samaritan, and was projected to gross $3–4 million from 1,353 theaters in its opening weekend. It ended up debuting to $3.2 million, finishing 6th at the box office, with a lower figure than Reitman's Labor Day ($5.1 million in 2014). 87% of its audience was over the age of 25. Deadline Hollywood noted an opening of $6.5 million would have been an ideal debut for the film. It made $2.2 million in its second weekend, dropping to 8th.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 87% based on 277 reviews, and an average rating of 7.59/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Tully delves into the modern parenthood experience with an admirably deft blend of humor and raw honesty, brought to life by an outstanding performance by Charlize Theron." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100, based on 52 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". According to PostTrak, filmgoers gave the film an overall positive score of 73%, with audience members over the age of 25 giving it a 71% and those under 25 giving it an 87%.
David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a "B", calling it "funnier than Juno and almost as ruthlessly honest as Young Adult", and saying: "Tully never pulls at your heartstrings quite as hard as it might, but there’s something beautiful about the way these two women both learn to love themselves, and in a way that also makes it easier for them to love each other." Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers praised the performances and script, giving the film 3.5 stars out of 4 and saying, "When the film takes a sharp turn and veers off-course in its final third, you hold on because Davis and Theron make sure you do. Together these two dynamite actresses cut to the soulful core of a movie that turns out to be funny, touching and vital."
Despite the film receiving positive reviews from many critics, one group of critics criticized the film for its portrayal of postpartum mental health. In particular they took exception to the normalization and the lack of recognition of post-partum depression and/or postpartum psychosis, which they deemed careless. The New York Times' review suggests that:
Marlo very visibly sinks into postpartum depression — you can see Ms. Theron pulling Marlo deeper and deeper inside — the movie pretends that her burden is somehow too hidden for anyone to notice... it isolates Marlo, and once again it is a woman who’s the problem that needs solving.
Diana Spalding, the website Motherly's digital education editor, midwife, and pediatric nurse, argues that Theron's character displays behaviors more typical of postpartum psychosis, the symptoms of which include delusions, hallucinations, periods of extreme activity, anger, paranoia and trouble communicating. Along with other negative critics of the movie, Spalding had looked forward to what a film about what motherhood was truly like, and instead finds the issue of postpartum mental illness "unaddressed", and her suicidal ideation is instead normalized. This condition is dangerous to both mother and child, according to Carolyn Wagner, a maternal mental health therapist based in Chicago, "it is extremely serious, and presents a grave danger to mom and infant. It does not involve fantastical imagined friend and caregiver, and it is certainly nothing to be made into a plot twist."
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