Juno meets Young Adult. Which frankly isn’t a shocking mix considering they boast both the same writer and director.
A spiritual successor to Juno or spiritual successor to Young Adult?
Tully is a dramedy written by Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult) and directed by Jason Reitman (Up in the Air, Juno, Young Adult). It stars Charlize Theron as Marlo, a somewhat unhappily married mother of two with a third on the way. Taking up an offer from her wealthy brother Craig (Mark Duplass), Marlo hires a night nanny named Tully (Mackenzie Davis) and the two begin to develop a strange but deep bond.
This has all the hallmarks of a Reitman/Cody production. Wit, pop songs and exasperated people in mundane living situations are the order of the day and its a mood that’s going to be comfortably familiar to any fans of Juno or their previous work. While this screenplay certainly hits on some similar ideas to previous projects, Cody manages to inject a fresh, almost adult fairytale magic to the proceedings that does wonders in distinguishing as something a little fresher than initial observations would suggest. Its a screenplay that is both lightly funny and softly dramatic, and injects some very interesting albeit muddled themes and ideas surrounding marriage, children and the very act of motherhood itself.
This is all helped along by a refreshingly unapologetic performance by Charlize Theron. Gaining quite a bit of weight for the role, she’s fantastic in not only balancing being both sympathetic and a little unlikable, but also in how authentic her performance feels to the themes and messages of the movie. Despite being a holier-than-thou big name actress, there is very little ego in both this role and performance and frankly she almost carries the entire weight of this film on her shoulders.
Well, that would be the case if it wasn’t for Mackenzie Davis and her both frank and utterly lovable turn as the enigmatic night nanny Tully. Potentially best known for her leading role in the Black Mirror episode San Junipero, Davis is a surprisingly adept foil for Charlize and appropriately steals the screen on several occasions. The rest of the supporting cast such as Duplass as the smary brother and Ron Livingston as the unhelpful husband are both perfectly serviceable, but the attention deservedly remains on the two leading ladies.
A thoughtful dramedy with a surprising script and stellar performances represents another win for Reitman and Cody. It may be a little bit too close to the familiar ground they have already tread, but still manages to distinguish itself and deliver a prompt and profoundly unapolagetic look at motherhood.
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
Film Buffs: Recommended