Friday, April 20, 2018

Talking Tribeca: Tully

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 18th-29th.

Directed by Jason Reitman
Special Screenings

There is no one trajectory to explain how and when major moments will play out in a person’s life. Some people don’t want a family, while others plan meticulously for it, but factors beyond their control may hasten or delay the beginning of a relationship, an engagement, or a birth. There are plenty of comedy and drama films about the miracle of life and the impact welcoming a child into the world can have, and this new film shows that there still is considerable ground to be covered, offering a fresh spin on something that many people are likely to experience or be affected by in some manner.

Marlo (Charlize Theron) is pushing the limits of exhaustion, raising two kids, including one with behavioral issues whose principal suggests that he might be better suited with a one-on-one aide that she’ll need to pay for, and very heavily pregnant with a third. Her husband Drew (Ron Livingston) is nice enough but hardly present, traveling frequently and playing video games in bed rather than helping around the house when he is home. After she gives birth, she opts to take her wealthy brother Craig (Mark Duplass) up on his generous offer to cover the costs of a night nanny. Meeting Tully (Mackenzie Davis), the young, spirited, energetic woman who arrives each night to allow her some sleep, changes everything, helping to turn her back into the person she once was.

Director Jason Reitman considers this the third in a trilogy of films directed by him and written by Diablo Cody. The first, the highly popular “Juno,” deals with an unexpected teenage pregnancy. The second, “Young Adult,” follows a woman who has never really grown up. This third chapter returns to the idea of family years later, long after the excitement of a newborn has worn off and life has become a monotonous burden without any hope of relief, which Tully’s arrival miraculously provides. Like their first two collaborations, this Reitman-Cody effort is a highly enjoyable, clever, and memorable look at a person trying to grapple with the state of her life that has spiraled well out of control.

Theron was so magnificently despicable in “Young Adult,” and it’s great to see her as a kinder but equally impatient mother who feels, rightly so thanks to her aloof husband, that she’s doing this all on her own. A substantial weight gain is the least impressive part of Theron’s layered and entertaining performance, complemented tremendously by Davis, a talented young actress who broke out in “Always Shine” at Tribeca two years ago and has since appeared in “Blade Runner 2049” and other films. Reitman suggests that Marlo’s situation is merely a location for the film, with the plot being more relevantly about a woman who rediscovers herself. Despite a questionable turn towards the end of the film, it recovers strongly and emphatically, certain of what it is and the poignancy of its story.


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