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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Cinema Review: Tully

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Screenwriter Diablo Cody burst onto the scene with ‘Juno’ in 2007. Canadian Jason Reitman was the director of that serious but sweet-natured movie and the pair has collaborated with great success again, albeit with an added serving of existential despair. Heavily pregnant with her third child, Marlo (Charlize Theron) is already at her wits’ end coping with a ‘quirky’ little boy whose erratic behaviour might lead to his expulsion from school. Husband Drew (Ron Livingston) is too busy with his job and his after-dinner PlayStation to be of much help to her so, after the baby is born, she reluctantly takes the advice of Craig (Mark Duplass), her brother who has everything, and employs Tully (Mackenzie Davis) as a night nanny. The newcomer to the family finds an instant rapport with Marlo and harmony descends on the household. Not that Marlo is entirely happy with what has become of the woman she was. Blown out and frumpy (Theron put on over twenty kilos for the part), she cannot bear the idea that she has a great future behind her. Tully will help mend her broken soul, too. It is an unusual movie in that there is no sudden trajectory shift, no wicked plot point at which the story hurtles into a dramatic third act – notwithstanding a shattering, near mystical incident at the end. In fact, for quite a while you might sit there thinking ‘is this all that it’s about?’ – until you realise that the ‘this’ is perhaps the most important thing that can be bestowed on any of us. Tully, about whom we learn little, other than that she is a free spirit, teaches Marlo to love her own life. As in Juno, the soundtrack is a significant player, at no point more so than when Beulahbelle’s ethereal version of You Only Live Twice takes us deeper into Marlo’s world. I wanted to know more about Tully, but in hindsight the movie works better as her being a Will-o’-the-wisp. And Theron is extraordinary.

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