While I was watching the movie Tully, I kept thinking that there was something very familiar about it, like I had seen it before. Was it the story? The acting? The writing by Diablo Cody (writer of one of my favorites, Juno)? Then I realized that it was familiar because I lived through it.
Charlize Theron plays Marlo, an exhausted mother of two who is very pregnant at the beginning of the movie and then has her baby and is even more exhausted. Her sweet, but clueless husband Drew, played by Ron Livingston, is trying to be supportive, but doesn’t have the tools, literally (no boobs, no night feeding) or emotionally, to help her.
So her brother (Mark Duplass) offers to pay for a night nanny. He’s worried about her and how motherhood has made her into someone unrecognizable. He assures her that night nannies aren’t just for rich jerks.
After having an epic meltdown at her son’s school, Margo gives in and Tully arrives. One of the first things she says to Margo are the words all new moms long for: “I’m here to take care of you.” I’m welling up just thinking about it. Having babies is so freaking hard and for a lot of women, myself included, it’s impossible to admit or realize that we need help.
Tully (Mackenzie Davis) is young and thin and pretty and wise, which sounds annoying, but is exactly what Margo needs. There’s a scene where Tully says, “You’re empty.” She’s referring to Margo’s breast milk, but Margo says, “yeah.”
Charlize Theron, who is currently the golden goddess of the J’adore Dior ads, is so good in this. She transforms herself and not just by gaining weight. Her eyes are dull like she’s not really there.
That was a lot of what I kept remembering – that feeling that things are happening to you and you’re not feeling it. They never say postpartum depression in Tully, but it’s clear Margo is suffering. From the outside, her life looks great – a nice house, cute husband, kids in private school – but it’s never a good indicator of what’s going on on the inside.
There’s a scene where Marlo is outside by herself running. A young, fit woman runs past her and Marlo sprints to catch up and ends up falling down. There’s so much pressure on mothers these days to be perfect and do all of the things – work, parent, shower, change your clothes – and do it all without complaint.
I won’t spoil the revelation in Tully, but I will say that I’m not sure how I feel about it. It was refreshing and cathartic to see a movie about motherhood that reflects my experience of being a mother and being over 40. There are so few movies that star women let alone show them nursing a baby. I’m not sure if the twist was necessary, but it was effective.
Tully is funny and heartbreaking and very real. Go see it with a mom friend because you’ll have a lot to talk about when it’s over.
Tully comes out in theaters May 4th.