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Arts, Movies & TV

Movie Review: 'Tully' showcases the chameleon that's Charlize Theron

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Trevor Dueck May 04, 2018 2:03 pm 1,015

Charlize Theron and Canadian actor Mackenzie Davis are the two biggest reasons you need to check out the film Tully.

Director Jason Reitman not only reteams with his 2011 Young Adult leading lady in Theron but also reunites with writer Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult). Having Cody’s snappy dialogue elevates Reitman’s work, and after a few duds for the Canadian director at the box office, it was time for this duo to make some magic once again.

Charlize Theron as Marlo in Tully. Image: Focus Features

But a film only works with the sum of all its parts and as great as Tully’s screenplay is, you need to have the acting chops to make the lines come off as believable. There is nobody better than chameleon Charlize Theron, who masterfully brings the scripted words to life.

Theron plays an overwhelmed mother of three who is gifted a night nanny named Tully (Mackenzie Davis) by her successful and rich brother (Mark Duplass). The two women soon find they have much in common, sparking a friendship that will change both of them forever.

On the surface, the film comes off as a typical character study that portrays parenthood in probably the most authentic way we’ve seen on film in some time. However, things become unpredictable when Tully shows up at the door about a third of the way through this tightly assembled 95-minute dramedy. This is when the fun begins as both actors are magnetic on screen together and audiences will immediately love the chemistry.

Mackenzie Davis and Charlize Theron in Tully

Mackenzie Davis and Charlize Theron in Tully. Image: Focus Features

Theron absolutely transforms herself for the role. How she is able to go from the lean mean fighting machine in last year’s Atomic Blonde, to the unkept overworked mother in Tully, is a testament to how deep the actor will dive into characters.

Mackenzie Davis brings the punk rock pixie to the story and although at first, her character seems a tad two-dimensional for my liking, as the movie rolls along she becomes far more well-rounded.

If there was anything to knock this movie for is that it takes too long for the different story elements to come together. There was something about some of the choices or story execution that is slightly bothersome.

The first half of the film is almost a flawless comedy-drama, but when the nanny arrives, things go so far off the rails, including a scene that involved Tully, Marlo and Marlo’s husband (Ron Livington), that these once personable characters no longer felt real.

Things eventually become resolved but it takes forever to get there. As a result, there is a big chunk of the film where audiences might start scratching their heads in confusion until the payoff at the end.

Image: Focus Features

That said, this is one of those films that deserves two viewings and, without giving any spoilers away, once you know the whole story, it will serve you well to revisit in order to appreciate the journey.

See also

Overall Tully is a fabulous film that showcases some incredible actors. It’s an unfiltered look at motherhood that’s messy and emotionally shattering but at the same time beautiful.

I’m giving this a 4 out of 5.

Playing at a theatre near you. R (for language and some sexuality/nudity). 94-minutes long. 

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Trevor Dueck
When Trevor isn't writing film reviews, he co-hosts Flix Anonymous on CKNW.com/Podcasts and Itunes.

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