Review: Tully

Cut myself on angel hair and baby’s breath.

by Iñaki Oñate

The lights in the movie theater dimmed down into total obscurity. The first image of the film: it’s nighttime, we see a yellowish desolated street in the wastelands of the American countryside. The semantic elements announce a standard horror flick (as predictable but at the same time as satisfying as a Big Mac).

The whispers and the voices of a confused audience start to resonate throughout the whole theater. Why? It’s the wrong film. A lady from the theater staff tells us that the correct movie will start playing in a couple of minutes. This rare moment should have served as an ill omen regarding my
experience watching Tully, directed by Jason Reitman, which unfortunately is the film I am reviewing in this article.

Let’s start with the positive aspects of the film. If you need to show or see a didactic audiovisual material about motherhood and family and the struggles that women must overcome while raising three children then this is a very useful film for you.

It tells the story of Marlo (Charlize Theron), a middle-class mother of two little kids (a daughter and a son) and awaiting the imminent birth of a third child. She is married to Drew (Ron Livingston) and is reaching a breaking point due to the pressures of having to deal with her son, who displays eccentric behavior, as well dealing with the final stages of her pregnancy.

One night, the family goes visit Marlo’s brother (Mark Duplass), who has a more affluent economic condition and he offers as a gift the service of a “night nanny” (Mackenzie Davis) to reduce the tension in her life. he gives her the nanny’s number in a piece of yellow paper. Marlo takes the piece of paper but seems reluctant to the idea. Regardless of her resistance this type story obviously demands the inclusion of the nanny in the life of the hesitating mother, which unfolds into the dramatic progression or transformation of the main character, in this case Marlo.

Up to this point what we have is a realistic and raw drama and it works great as it is. It’s a wonderful showcase of great, intense acting by good actors. Unfortunately the story develops into something that destroys this organicity but I won’t spoil the movie for you. I will only make one recommendation for anybody who wants to see this film and not be flabbergasted in a very negative way: avoid Roman Polanski’s film D’après une histoire vraie. If you have already seen it… don’t bother with Tully.

What could have become a very direct, simple and intimate drama (even echoing movies such as Precious by Lee Daniels or John Hughes‘ film She’s Having a Baby) transforms into a poorly written game of fantasy, mental
illness and nostalgia. At the end of the screening the lights came back on  and I felt I would have prefered the horror flick instead.


IñaIñaki Oñate / Writer (Quito, Ecuador – 1988) Iñaki resides in Buenos Aires, where he studied film directing at Universidad del Cine. His short films have been part of the official selection at the New York, La Habana and Cannes festivals.  He’s currently developing his first feature film with his own independent production company, Undergofilms. He also works in music and art illustration.

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