Film Review: Tully (2018)

‘Quite bland and quite boring, and even the twist at the end is quite easily foreseeable’

2018 in Cinema:


Directed by: Jason Reitman

Starring: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass, Ron Livingston


After the birth of her third child, Marlo (Charlize Theron, Atomic Blonde) struggles to cope with the demands of the lack of sleep and housing chores with all three children, especially with her son, Jonah, showing signs of autism (he’s told to be ‘quirky’ in the film, without specifying which mental illness he has), and her clearly suffering from some form of post-natal depression. Her brother, Craig (Mark Duplass), soon offers to pay for a night-nanny, Tully, for them, someone who comes in during the evening and allows Marlo to have a full night’s sleep. Marlo’s attitude and mood soon improves with the night-nanny and they become close, but all is not what it seems with this film.

I’ve seen many positive reviews about Tully, and it disappoints me to say I unfortunately do not share their positivity. I found Tully to be quite bland and quite boring, and even the twist at the end is quite easily foreseeable based on how certain characters interact with other characters throughout the film and some of the dialogue spoken. That being said, there are some positives in this film’s storytelling that I admired; firstly, how daunting the film presents motherhood as. More often than not in films with a new-born baby it’s presented as challenging but it’s still all romanticised; Tully has no such feeling. Marlo is tired, she’s exhausted, she’s unhappy, she’s helpless while her life seemingly falls apart. She struggles with her son’s school behaviour, struggles to make proper meals for their dinner and the house is generally left untidy. It really helps you feel emotionally invested in Marlo’s journey and the acting from Charlize Theron is brilliant at portraying this sadness, and I was amazed to read that she chose this role despite needing to gain a significant amount of weight; normally actors/actresses choose parts where they need to shrink down a few pounds so it was nice to see someone doing the opposite; especially someone as well-known as Charlize Theron who could’ve chosen any other parts where she needn’t have forced her body through this drastic change.

And as touched upon, there is a twist at the end which does have some intrigue to it; and it made me momentarily rethink some scenes to make sense of it, which is a sign of a decent twist. But, unfortunately, it’s quite predictable and comes about quite abruptly meaning not enough time is dedicated to the outcome.

But for all the plaudits it gets for portraying the harsh reality of motherhood, I was quite bored throughout. There’s a lot (and I mean a lot) of breast-feeding, there’s a lot of slow-moving scenes with her being upset and loads of scenes of people sitting around talking. I also didn’t buy too much into the lack of help from the father, Drew (Ron Livingston), as he doesn’t get a single day of paternity leave (I don’t know the official rules of new-fatherhood in America but surely they should be entitled to some), and he doesn’t help out too much aside from the homework, and with Marlo not asking him for help it takes away from the sadness I feel for her as he could help out instead of playing computer games every evening. And with me being childless I couldn’t buy into it as much as people who have had children can, which I suppose didn’t help.

A very well acted film whose story will no doubt be a lot more emotionally connected to some people more so than myself, but unfortunately I couldn’t buy into it too much and was mostly disappointed with the twist ending. Also, there was a lot of breast-feeding scenes. Surely once you’ve shown it once or twice it can just be implied from then on.


Personal: *     Acting: * * *     Writing: * *     Presentation: * * *

Overall Rating: * * ¼

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