Friday, May 4, 2018

Tully - Review

Assembling a film is never an easy task, but putting the right pieces in place from the start can certainly help the process. Begin with a writer and director that have teamed up in the past to deliver great films like Young Adult and Juno, and then throw in the star of the former for good measure. With a solid base of an excellent screenplay, direction, and lead performance, there really is a minimal chance that Tully goes south.

Marlo (Charlize Theron), a mother of three, is gifted a night nanny by her brother. Hesitant to the extravagance at first, Marlo comes to form a unique bond with the thoughtful, surprising, and sometimes challenging young nanny named Tully (Mackenzie Davis).

The style of director Jason Reitman is on full display in Tully, capturing humor and heart in one fell swoop. A somewhat tragic portrayal of motherhood backed with a comedic through line allows Tully to be heartfelt and heartbreaking all at once.  The story is not terribly unique in its own right, but it is told in such a way that feels fresh and different while relatable in almost every detail. While this is all well and good, starting with an interesting script with interesting characters, the film is sold with excellent performances.

Charlize Theron is undoubtedly marvelous as the somewhat broken-down mother, Marlo. Her ability to transform into this character is tremendous. She maintains this sense of reality and believability in the role, one that is arguably one of her best performances ever. Theron is the piece that makes this film tick, the performance that pulls all of the other elements in and elevates them beyond their greatness. With that all being said, leaving the theater one performance stands out for a different reason. Mackenzie Davis as the titular Tully is a delight. While she may not outshine Theron, her performance will certainly mark her as a star on the rise.

Fortunately for everyone, filmmakers and the audience alike, the script for Tully is remarkably well written. Diablo Cody pens the film here and does a great job of seamlessly merging the tragic and the comedy for a final product that can pull on a full range of emotions over the 90-minute runtime. Half of hitting that mark is nailing the dynamic between Marlo and Tully. The performances and chemistry between Theron and Davis help without question, but the writing behind them makes their relationship intriguing to see play out.

Overall, Tully is a feat of emotional storytelling, hitting the rights notes of melancholy and funny to craft this delightful film. The award worthy performance from Theron will likely keep in her conversations when the time comes, though it is far too early to predict actual trophies falling to her. Mackenzie Davis, while delivering great performances consistently for a while now, will hopefully break out from this wonderful turn as Tully into better and better roles. But above all else, the work from Diablo Cody on the script needs to be praised the most, and honestly, talked about for the rest of the year. The year is still young, but it is safe to say Tully is one of the best films so far.

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