Tully (2018)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Tully</strong> (2018)

(On Cable TV, January 2019) As a parent who just got out of the first few tough years, there’s an innate relatability to Tully’s phantasmagorical premise that rings true—given the sleep deprivation during a baby’s first years, I’m not sure that any parent is actually totally sane during that period and this film runs with the premise. Charlize Theron adds another impressive notch to her multidimensional screen persona by playing an overworked, super-stressed mother of three, with Mackenzie Davis in a strong supporting role and Ron Livingston to tie the narrative threads together. As a portrait of parenthood, Tully is more ruthlessly honest than most other movies—there’s little idealization going on here, and we’re miles away from shiny mommy blogging. There’s a nice balance between domestic details and frustration and the more outlandish flights of fancy that the story requires. Reuniting with scribe Diablo Cody (herself a mother of three), director Jason Reitman doesn’t try to recapture Juno’s motormouth wit but wisely stays grounded given the third-act twists. Going closer to spoilers, I remain as dumbfounded as anyone as to the popularity of the “Fight Club in another setting” premise (taking over from “Die Hard in another setting”) as shared by Tully and near-contemporary Adrift—it’s a narrative strategy build on deceit and now-cheap revelations, and I’m not sure it’s a subgenre that will age well. Still, I found a lot to relate to in Tully’s sleep-deprived fantasies and can’t stay mad for long at the plot cheats that it needs in order to justify itself.

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