At the start of this film, we are focused on a woman who is pregnant and close to giving birth. She’s married and she has two young children — a charming girl and a boy who is borderline autistic. This third child was unplanned for by Marlo (Charlize Theron) and her husband, Drew (Ron Livingston).
After the birth of a beautiful little girl, we see Marlo go through the troubles and traumas of new motherhood. She is not entirely up to the task at age 40. There is a series of scenes, showing in rapid succession, how Marlo gets out of bed all night long to breastfeed, then diaper, then rock the baby back to sleep. Sadly, there is nobody to help Marlo get back to sleep.
Her husband is not uncaring, but his perception is that all those tasks are a mother’s duty. He works hard at a job that takes him away from home for a few days at a time. All this adds up to a grueling drain on Marlo’s strength.
Marlo’s brother Craig (Mark Duplass) is a wealthy businessman. He wants to help Marlo and offers to hire a nanny to care for the baby while Marlo gets the full night’s sleep she needs — more and more. Marlo is reluctant to do that, but eventually, there is a knock on the door in the late evening.
The caller is the night nanny, named Tully. Tully (Mackenzie Davis) is young, beautiful and full of smiles, energy and good spirits. She immediately takes over the task and despite Marlo’s initial resistance, Tully does her job perfectly and then some. Marlo finds the house more orderly than she can remember, the baby well cared for, and even some helpful cooking for the family. And Marlo sleeps, soundly and recovering her real self.
As the days and Tully evenings go by, Marlo’s attitude softens rapidly. She regains a good deal of her energy and realizes a renewed affection for her new child. Her husband and her two other children reap the benefits also. Marlo becomes fonder of Tully and appreciates her role in their lives. Marlo sees Tully’s youth and vivacious personality as a reminder of her own younger years. She has some dreams and fantasies about those times.
But there comes a time when Tully says she has to leave. The two women are both unhappy about that. Tully won’t reveal where she is going or why she has to leave. The answer is revealed to us in the surprising last part of the film.
Charlize Theron, once again, displays her acting talent as Marlo. Caring for a newborn is not all fun and joy. It is hard and demanding work, especially for a woman approaching middle age. Theron, who put on a bunch of weight to her body for the role, brings us a strong image of the burden. Davis is very good as Tully and their interactions are convincing.
Tully is a very engaging movie that keeps us more interested as the story progresses. And there is a good reason to smile at the end.
Tully is at the Harkins Sedona 6 theater.