Tully: The Magical Despair of Parenthood

Tully (2018)

Director – Jason Reitman

Writer – Diablo Cody

Starring – Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass

Rating – R

Genre – Drama, Comedy

Metascore – 75/100

Rotten Tomatoes – 87%

Tully comes from the dynamic duo Jason Reitman (director) and Diablo Cody (writer) who have worked together on previous films such as Juno and Young Adult. Tully is a sophisticated character piece on motherhood, piloted by the shapeshifter Charlize Theron. This film exposes the despair of postpartum depression while integrating dark comedic moments, allowing us to experience authentic parenthood. Diablo’s writing is at its best as it takes heavy topics, drops them in a down to earth situation and maintains a subversive magical tone.


Marlo (Charlize Theron) is in her third pregnancy, one which was not planned, and at the end of her rope. For her reprieve, Marlo’s brother offers to pay for a night nanny, Tully (Mackenzie Davis), who cares for her newborn throughout the night so Marlo can sleep. The rest of the movie explores the joys and pains of motherhood and the relationship between a mother and her night nanny.

Theron is one of the most talented actresses working today, rivaled only by the enigmatic Frances McDormand. She digs and buries herself into her character allowing the audience to encounter the true despair intended for Marlo. Mackenzie Davis mirrors Theron’s devotion in this movie by capturing the infinite curiosity and intelligence of a young, beautiful night nanny. Both Marlo and Tully are enamored with each other – Marlo with a fondness of what it was like to be young and full of energy, and Tully with an aspiration for normality and security.


Tully exposes the true realities of parenthood with scenes like dropping your phone on your newborn’s face or with the dread of being told that your child needs to find a new school. Cody’s intricate writing painfully reveals what parenthood is and the dire loneliness that comes in the middle of the night while holding a screaming child.


Juno was a story about growing up too fast, Young Adult was a movie about growing up too slow and now Reitman and Cody’s third collaboration is simply grasping that you have to grow up and say goodbye to your younger self. Tully carries a magical element similar to a lenticular piece of art. At the beginning you think you are watching one movie but afterwards you realize you were watching two movies the whole time; the former was just out of sight. This is a truly fantastical element of the story and ramps the story from great to excellent, but hinders it’s rewatchability.

A lenticular piece of art

This movie is like going to a shogun restaurant where they cook at your table. The first time you sit down and watch your cook toss eggs around and make flaming onion volcanoes you leave utterly impressed; the second time around feels cheap. Aside from its lack of endurance in multiple viewings, Tully packs a large enough punch that you don’t need to take a second glance.

Author: Jesse Ingram

499 Rating: 9 / 10