2007 was the year Academy Award-nominated director Jason Reitman first teamed up with stripper-turned-writer Diablo Cody on coming-of-age drama Juno. The film went on to receive four Academy Award nominations, as well as the award for Best Original Screenplay. The pair has since collaborated on two comedy-dramas starring Charlize Theron – 2011’s Young Adult, and this year’s surprise screening at Sundance Film Festival in January.
Tully stars Theron as Marlo, a neglected wife who is struggling with three young children, including a newborn daughter. Exhausted and swamped, she is gifted a night nanny by her brother Craig (Mark Duplass). Initially hesitant to the extravagance, she soon comes to form a unique bond with laid-back nanny Tully (Mackenzie Davis).
Due to the evident lack of support from husband Drew (Ron Livingston), Marlo comes across as a single mum. Overwhelmed by unpredictable Jonah and baby Mia, there is a lack of personal identity and her growing desire of a carefree life only exacerbates her aggravation towards others. This is where Tully comes in. Quirky, offbeat and insightful, she becomes a much-needed shoulder to cry on and a perfect foil for the stressed out Marlo.
After last year’s Atomic Blonde, Theron’s effortless performance of Marlo shows that she can play both tough and sensitive characters and Davis’ Tully is also wonderful as the proverbial ray of sunshine, as she is probably the most realistic, laid-back character of the film. The chemistry between the two characters overshadow the supporting characters, ranging from Marlo’s indifferent husband Drew (Ron Livingston) to Craig’s eccentric partner Elyse (Elaine Tan).
The combination of Reitman’s mellow direction and the sun-kissed cinematography from frequent collaborator Eric Steelburg provides a level of intimacy, as Cody’s quick-witted screenplay highlights an open disdain for hipsters with the occasional yet uncomfortable plot element for good measure. Similar to her work in Juno, she offers a brutally honest tale about the struggles of motherhood rather than hide behind the illusion of a perfect family life.
Overall, Reitman and Cody have once again delivered a drama with smarts with Theron delivering a tender, poignant performance.
Director: Jason Reitman, Diablo Cody (screenwriter)
Stars: Charlize Theron, Mark Duplass, Mackenzie Davis, Ron Livingston, Elaine Tan
Runtime: 96 minutes