Tully review - perceptive take on the woes of motherhood

Tully review - perceptive take on the woes of motherhood

There are some filmmaking teams that just seem to bring out the best in each other.

Screenwriter Diablo Cody won an Oscar for her debut screenplay for "Juno", directed by Jason Reitman, and firmly established her unique voice - sarcastic, smart and referential, a singular blend of self-deprecation and superiority.

If "Juno" is about growing up too fast, and "Young Adult" is about growing up too slow, "Tully" is about raising children while letting go of your own childhood, Reitman said. This dramedy is a whole new type of flick for the trio, which is a definite compliment.

Cody felt similarly insecure after she became a mother: "I am a (lousy) cook; I'm not good at the day-to-day domestic work of parenting", she admits. It's nearly shocking that the film is released now, at the start of the summer season, because of the very fact that its thoughtful and humane story is a complete antidote to a month of turbocharged blockbusters.

Getting along with marginal help from her husband (Ron Livingston), Marlo receives an offer from her wealthy brother (Mark Duplass) to retain a night nanny, allowing her to get some rest.

Although she adopted both kids and raises them as a single mom, she could relate to Marlo's initial reluctance to get a nanny, in fear of being labeled a "bad parent". Initially, Marlo resists the charms of Tully, but before long, walls come down. "At the end of the day, it's so amusing, but when you're in it, it's a horror movie". Reitman directs a script from Cody, with the supporting cast including Maddie Dixon-Poirier, Lia Frankland, Asher Miles Fallica, Joshua Pak, Elaine Tan, Gameela Wright, and more. I don't mean to diminish the incredibly important bravery of this movie in that aspect in any way.

If "Tully" is a movie that cheats, even lies to us a little bit, it's to get at a more real and recognizable truth.

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'I was playing this woman and I wanted to get closer to her.

Theron said she still appreciates advice given by her own mother today. She's been doing great supporting work for years, but this might put her over the top. I'm not sure about the wisdom of the twist at the end but there's no doubt about Theron's mastery of the material.

"Tully", a Focus Features release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for "language and some sexuality/nudity".

Theron is the picture's steady emotional heartbeat and her raw, unselfconscious portrayal nourishes supporting cast including a luminous turn from Davis.

A belated attempt to turn 2008's home-invasion hit The Strangers into a viable franchise, The Strangers: Prey at Night plays more like a cash-in on Stranger Things. If nothing else, this is one of the gems of the first half of the year, so hopefully it's at least somewhat remembered come the precursor season. On another morning, she discovers a big batch of fresh-baked cupcakes awaiting her. But what makes Tully such a tragicomic triumph compared with the brittle perkiness of films like I Don't Know How She Does It (2011) and the god-awful Motherhood (2009) is that the film is not afraid to mine some pretty dark thematic territory.

"I'm kind of going through it right now because my little one is potty training, so night time, we're up three times a night changing sheets and pyjamas and things like that, but I wouldn't change it for anything".

There is undeniable pleasure in unravelling the many layers to Reitman's delicately observed film and the flawed yet deeply sympathetic characters, who struggle to articulate their fears to each other and prefer to suffer in anguished silence. That one tackles politics, while this one tackles motherhood.

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