Tully: A Movie About the Beauty and Chaos of Motherhood

A new comedy from Academy Award®-nominated director Jason Reitman (“Up in the Air”) and Academy Award®-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (“Juno”). Marlo (Academy Award® winner Charlize Theron), a mother of three including a newborn, is gifted a night nanny by her brother (Mark Duplass). 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).

What I love about this new film is the realness of it.  That the screenwriter of this film really experienced what she created.   After giving birth to her third child,  Diablo Cody took a chance on a night nanny.  Little did she know how much she would fall in love with this idea.  With two young children already at home that required much of her time and energy, Cody knew she would need help.   Motherhood is EXHAUSTING and with a newborn, there is no sleep in your future.   So she did what many professional women in major metropolitan cities are doing, hire a night nanny.

Night nanny services have been growing in popularity for over a decade,  Cody didn’t know about their existence until the success of Juno brought her to Los Angeles to work in the movie business. “Growing up in Illinois, I’d never heard of night nurses. I thought it was a completely strange idea but kind of brilliant, too,” she remarks. “I stubbornly resisted having the night nurse with my eldest child. Resisted with my second child. Third child, I completely swallowed my pride. The night nurse helped me take care of the baby so that I could be rested in the morning for my other kids. And it was revelatory. Because even with help, you’re tired. It was almost shocking how much I fell in love with the night nurse because it felt like she was my savior.

Charlize Theron stars as Marlo in Jason Reitman’s TULLY, a Focus Features release.
Mark Duplass stars as Craig in Jason Reitman’s TULLY, a Focus Features release.
Charlize Theron stars as Marlo in Jason Reitman’s TULLY, a Focus Features release.
Mackenzie Davis stars as Tully in Jason Reitman’s TULLY, a Focus Features release.
(l to r.) Mackenzie Davis as Tully and Charlize Theron as Marlo star in Jason Reitman’s TULLY, a Focus Features release.

That experience gave her the idea for a film about a new mother’s postpartum struggles and the surprising young night nanny who restores her to life. She wanted to tell a story about a woman who is overwhelmed with the demands of parenting after giving birth to her third child; a woman who loves her children but fears being swallowed up by the role of mother and cut off from her own self.

The idea fits the criteria she has set herself as a writer. “My mission in my career is to write roles for women that I have not seen before,” she explains. “I had never seen a film about postpartum depression. I feel like there are so many feminine experiences that have not been represented in films, so I’m constantly going back to that well.”

So that is where Tully comes from.  Cody fleshed out a fairly ordinary life for her protagonist, Marlo, who is uneasily awaiting the imminent arrival of her third child with her husband Drew. Marlo is accustomed to juggling the demands of a full-time job and parenting two children, eight-year-old Sarah and five-year-old Jonah, who has special needs. Marlo loves her kids, but she had not planned on having another at age 40. She’s not eager to talk about the subject and she’s definitely not comfortable when her wealthy brother Craig gifts her with a night nanny.

What happens from the final days of the pregnancy to the end of the film is brilliant.  Showcasing the beauty and chaos of motherhood, moms will be able to relate.  Moms want to be perfect, but the truth is we need to be exactly who we are.   We are blessed with unique families.  Learning how to juggle it all can be tiresome and stressful.  There are simply not enough hours in the day to really accomplish all that we want to.   To add to that, some of us have children with disabilities, professional careers to juggle, husbands, etc…  Seldom do we stop and give ourselves the attention we need and deserve.  Motherhood is definitely one of the most challenging jobs around and Theron does a beautiful job portraying the realness of motherhood.

Tully opens in theaters nationwide Friday, May 4.

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