Tully stars Charlize Theron as a 41-year-old mom having her third child with her suburban nice guy husband, played by Mark Duplass. It’s from the team of screenwriter Diablo Cody (a ridiculous stripper name) and director Jason Reitman, who made the surprisingly insightful Juno in 2007.
When Cody won the Best Screenwriting Oscar for her Liz Phairesque first movie, there was much gossip about how she must have enticed some old pro into writing it for her. But then, with Theron and Patton Oswalt, Cody and Reitman made the even better Young Adult in 2011.
Tully is about 2/3rds realistic portrayal of just how physically wearing having a newborn baby is and about 1/3rd speculative psychological drama as an exhausted Theron looks back on her carefree 20s:
“I rode every horse on the carousel.”
“Which horse was your husband?”
The Roissyesque aspect of that dialogue may not be a coincidence. Cody’s combination of libertine id and conservative wisdom is pretty similar to Roissy’s, but from the female perspective.
There are quite a few good things about Tully: In particular, Theron is both a dedicated actress and a Movie Star, so even carrying the extra 40 or 50 pounds she gained for the role, she lights up the screen. The combination of a big star in a modestly scaled movie (the film is only 94 minutes long) is refreshing.
Also, while many actresses like to play Giving Birth scenes, movies tend to gloss over the aftermath as And They All Lived Happily Ever After, when in reality the next several months are often a struggle.
Unfortunately, Tully doesn’t quite pull off its Big Plot Twist. It’s close, but that’s also frustrating in that it seems like a week’s script doctoring could have papered over the holes in the plot.