Northampton Press

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Movie Review: ‘Tully’ a brave choice

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 by Paul Willistein in Focus

“Tully” is an odd little film paced by a brave performance by a veteran, Charlize Theron, and a dymanic turn by a newcomer, Mackenzie Davis.

In “Tully,” not to be confused with the 2000 film of the same title, Marlo (Charlize Theron) is a suburban mother of two, who is expecting a child. She has taken a leave of absence from her job as a teacher, but is still harried.

Her husband, Drew (Ron Livingston), busy with a career that requires travel and preoccupied with playing video games when home at night, seems uninvolved with the children and emotionally-unavailable to his wife.

While their daughter, Sarah (Lia Frankland, in her theatrical feature debut), seems well-adjusted, their son, Jonah (Asher Miles Fallica), seems to be person with a disability on the autism spectrum. At a meeting, the school principal (Gameela Wright) suggests that Jonah transfer to a school that can better help him.

During a visit to the home of her wealthy brother, Craig (Mark Duplass), and his wife, Elyse (Elaine Tan), Marlo is asked if she would consider the gift of a “night nanny” from her brother to help her once the baby arrives. Marlo is at first reluctant, but agrees when the challenges of managing a household and three children, including a newborn, become overwhelming.

Bounding into her life late one night is Tully (Mackenzie Davis), an intelligent, vivacious and loquacious twentysomething. Tully is the perfect antidote to the developing maternal mayhem. Tully becomes an efficient manager and fast friend to Marlo.

Director Jason Reitman has described “Tully” as third in a triology of films he’s directed based on screenplays by Diablo Cody. The other two were “Young Adult” (2011), an unsettling drama-comedy which also starred Charlize Theron, and “Juno” (2007), the teen drama-comedy classic that was a breakout for Ellen Page and Michael Cera, and for which Cody received an Oscar for original screenplay.

You can depend on sharply-drawn characters, relatable insights and witty dialogue in a Diablo Cody screenplay and “Tully” does not disappoint.

You can also depend on thoughful direction by Jason Reitman (“Men, Women & Children,” 2014; “Labor Day,” 2013; “Up In The Air,” 2009; “Thank You For Smoking,” 2005), who gives his actors the leeway to breathe life into their characters by letting the camera linger on their faces and body language. Reitman directs in a naturalistic style. He’s a miniaturist of the treasured emotion and revealed thought. “Tully” is an especially interesting collaboration between Cody and Reitman.

Charlize Theron (“Atomic Blonde,” 2017; “Mad Max: Fury Road,” 2015; Oscar, actress, “Monster,” 2005) gives a strong and compelling performance as a mother who wants to do right by her children and family, but all too frequently lacks the time and energy to do so. This is another unglamourous role for Theron, one of the most fearless, and fearsome, actressses in contemporary cinema.

Mackenzie Davis (“Blade Runner 2049,” 2017; “The Martian,” 2015) gives a fresh and disarming performance as a young woman who may be a free spirit, but is wise beyond her years. As an actress, Davis is memorable, and one to watch.

“Tully” should be of interest to parents or would-be parents. There are some tips for living in this drama-comedy. And it’s a film that should generate discussion long after you leave the movie theater.

“Tully,” MPAA rated R (Restricted Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.) for language and some sexuality-nudity; Genre: Drama, Comedy; Run time: 1 hr., 35 min.; Distributed by Focus Features.

Credit Readers Anonymous: “Tully” was filmed in New York City and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Movie Box Office, May 11:

Box Office, May 11: “Avengers: Infinity War” continued its record pace, No. 1 for a third week straight, with a still strong $61.8 million, $547.8 million, three weeks, keeping Melissa McCarthy’s comedy, “Life Of The Party,” opening at No. 2 with $18.5 million, and Gabrielle Union’s thriller, “Breaking In,” opening at No. 3 with $16.5 million.

4. “Overboard” dove down two places, $10.1 million, $29.5 million, two weeks. 5. “A Quiet Place” dropped two places, $6.4 million, $169.5 million, six weeks. 6. “I Feel Pretty” dropped two places, $3.7 million, $43.8 million, four weeks. 7. “Rampage” dropped two places, $3.3 million, $89.7 million, five weeks. 8. “Tully” dropped two places, $2.2 million, $6.9 million, two weeks. 9. “Black Panther” dropped two places, $1.9 million, $696.1 million, 13 weeks. 10. “RPG,” $1.1 million, $2 million, two weeks.

48. Director Dan Roebuck’s Lehigh Valley-filmed “Getting Grace” went up 18 places from a readjusted No. 66, with $4,230, on four screens, $206,651, eight weeks.

Unreel, May 18:

“Deadpool 2,” R: David Leitch directs Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Zazie Beetz, and Ryan Reynolds in the Science-Fiction Comedy. Wade, aka, Deadpool is up to more antics.

“Book Club,” PG-13: Bill Holderman directs Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen in the Comedy. A monthly book club becomes a real page-turner.

“Show Dogs,” PG: Raja Gosnell directs Will Arnett, Alan Cumming, Stanley Tucci, and Natasha Lyonne in the Action-Comedy. A police dog goes undercover. The dog talks.

“Pope Francis: A Man of His Word,” Wim Wenders directs the Biography-Documentary about Pope Francis.

“On Chesil Beach,” R: Dominic Cooke directs Saoirse Ronan, Emily Watson, Anne-Marie Duff, and Samuel West in the Romance-Drama. The movie is based on Ian McEwan’s novel about newlyweds in England in 1962.

“First Reformed,” R: Paul Schrader directs Allentown native Amanda Seyfried, Ethan Hawke, Cedric the Entertainer, and Michael Gaston in the Thriller-Drama. A former military chaplain (Ethan Hawke) grieves the death of his son. Mary (Amanda Seyfried) mourns the death of her husband.

Two Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes