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“Tully” reunites Diablo Cody, Jason Reitman, and Charlize Theron with wonderful results

There are some filmmaking teams that just seem to bring out the best in each other. In terms of writers who pair with directors, few have the winning bond that scribe Diablo Cody has with auteur Jason Reitman. Between Juno and Young Adult, the pair have crafted some truly memorable cinema. This week, the duo team up again for Tully, which also marks their second union with star Charlize Theron (after the aforementioned Young Adult). This dramedy is a whole new type of flick for the trio, which is a definite compliment. All three have done tremendous work in the past, and this stands right up there with the best of it. In fact, few films in 2018 have been this good.

The film is described on IMDb as such: “The film is about Marlo, a mother of three including a newborn, who is gifted a night nanny by her brother. Hesitant to the extravagance at first, Marlo comes to form a unique bond with the thoughtful, surprising, and sometimes challenging young nanny named Tully.” Theron plays Marlo, while Mackenzie Davis is the spark plug Tully. Initially, Marlo resists the charms of Tully, but before long, walls come down. In doing so, she finally gets some care, not to mention self care. Suddenly, everything seems better, including her marriage to Drew (Ron Livingston). Considering what a handful her children are, this begins to bring out a side of Marlo that her brother Craig (Mark Duplass) yearns to see again. Things don’t turn out as you’d expect though, so those thinking this is a simple tale are in for a surprise. Reitman directs a script from Cody, with the supporting cast including Maddie Dixon-Poirier, Lia Frankland, Asher Miles Fallica, Joshua Pak, Elaine Tan, Gameela Wright, and more. Eric Steelberg once again handles Reitman’s cinematography, while Rob Simonsen provides the score.

I loved this movie. It’s awkward, perceptive, real, and smart. Cody and Reitman have a synergy that you just don’t see from most moviemaking teams. Granted, I always like Reitman’s work (I’ll forever go to the mat and claim Men, Women, & Children is an underrated gem), and Cody’s one of the better writers in the business, but this still is a really affecting work. Theron nearly matches her work in Young Adult (which is, along with Monster, her best ever), while Davis is a potential breakout star. She’s been doing great supporting work for years, but this might put her over the top. The ending may be a bit divisive, but I admired its boldness.

Awards wise, Tully may end up a long shot, but it deserves an Oscar push from Focus Features. Campaigns in Best Picture, Best Director (for Reitman), Best Actress (for Theron), Best Supporting Actress (for Davis), and Best Original Screenplay (for Cody) would be well founded. Depending on how the year turns out, Theron in Best Actress might be the most likely play. Actress could be a stacked lineup though, which may ruin her chances early on. If nothing else, this is one of the gems of the first half of the year, so hopefully it’s at least somewhat remembered come the precursor season. Time will tell there, but the quality is present at least.

Starting tomorrow, audiences can see the latest Cody/Reitman/Theron collaboration when Tully opens. It’s one of the year’s best, so you should be on the lookout for this one. If you’re a fan of any of the three’s work, this is one of their best, so keep that in mind. This is the sort of adult centric cinema that we all too rarely get nowadays. Reitman will be back with an even more Oscar centric type film in The Front Runner later on this year. That one tackles politics, while this one tackles motherhood. Keep an eye out for that one, but for now, this one is a movie to be excited for…

Be sure to check out Tully, in theaters this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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