Jason Reitman has certainly grown as a director in the decade he’s best working with Diablo Cody. Often deeply flawed when not using the exotic dancer-turned-Oscar winner, Cody’s mix of quirk and master of the mundane, which has blossomed with experience, provides vibrant characters for Reitman to mold into an unusual band of humans trying to survive. Juno, Young Adult, and now Tully are a prestigious trio of women grappling with their choices.
In Tully, Marlo (Charlize Theron), a mother ready to burst with her third child, is gifted a night nanny by her wealthy brother. She and her husband Drew (Ron Livingston) are hesitant to accept a stranger into their home, but once enigmatic Tully (Mackenzie Davis) enters their home, the family’s life finds balance as the night nanny helps to heal the entire family; the couple’s own little Mary Poppins lets the woman come back out of the mom. Charlize Theron’s maternal nightmare has matured from her Oscar winning Aileen Wuornos in a transformative performance of a woman emotionally wreck and attempting a rebuild. Marlo’s morbid wit is graceful, even if sometimes ruined by the trailer; the “my hole” joke left a quiet theater. Mackenzie Davis is otherworldly as the night nurse. Quirky, progressively more unhinged, her never weakening spirit (and there’s a lot of it) is powerfully engaging; I’m not sure how she pulls it off.
Emptiness pretty well covers depression; Marlo persists as long as she can before Tully is summoned. Mending those pieces back together in any variety has its own requirements. Marlo couldn’t do it alone, and resistant to accept help, things may tumble together and fall apart, and it’s pretty unpredictable. Tully is dark comedy. More Young Adult than Juno and probably closer to Rachel Getting Married than either, Cody and Reitman have been producing impressive work for so long, I wonder what they might give in another ten.