The Unicorn Scale: Tully
Welcome back, loyal readers! As the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, I hope that you are all managing to stay toasty and comfortable. It seems like the perfect time of year to curl up with a warm beverage and catch up on all those movies you missed while you were outside playing during the summer months.
It seemed like the perfect time to dive into the recent Jason Reitman film, Tully, starring Charlize Theron and penned by Diablo Cody and I’m glad I decided to take the time to watch this one. Tully certainly did not get the fanfare it deserved when it premiered this last spring, so let’s take some time to chat about it now.
As always, this may be everyone’s favorite beat in my reviews for the Scale (ha ha ha). Because here is the point where I remind everyone that in order for me to do a proper Unicorn review, this article will contain all the SPOILERS. Also, if you need a reminder on the metric of the scale and how it works, feel free to browse through the original Unicorn Scale review of Black Sails.
Tully focuses on Marlo (Theron), a smart but surly 40-year-old suburban mother of two about to give birth to her third child. As a gift, her wealthy brother offers to hire her a night nanny for the first few months after the child is born so Marlo can get some much-needed rest after her night feedings. Enter Tully (Mackenzie Davis), a 26-year-old dream of a caretaker, wise beyond her years. She quickly reminds Marlo of her own years as a young bohemian woman loving and living it up in Brooklyn.
WHAT I LIKED:
I adored how subtly Tully introduced Marlo’s bisexuality. After establishing her marriage to her bare-minimum-fatherly effort husband (Rob Livingston), we see a quick scene of a chance run-in with Marlo’s former roommate. The meeting is rife with quiet awkwardness and the ghost of sexual chemistry. Then, as Marlo grows closer with Tully, Marlo insinuates that she had scores of lovers in her younger years and these lovers were not all of the same gender.
But the film doesn’t focus on Marlo’s queerness, and I love that. Queerness isn’t the main conflict of the film – it’s about showing other complications queer people face in everyday life that don’t normally get depicted on screen. Seeing queer people going through the same sleep fatigue, exhaustion, and strain associated with any parents with a newborn. More films should aspire to show that queer lives are not just about being queer.
When I first heard about Tully and its bi character, I sat down ready to write a review about a new mother falling in love with her new nanny, a twist on the old “father has an affair with the nanny” tale. The movie’s take on this tired trope and the ultimate twist (which I won’t reveal) were far different from what I had expected, and I was not mad about it all.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
I know Tully was trying to be subtle about Marlo’s sexuality, but I’m really losing patience with modern movies not using “queer” or “bi” to describe or discuss clearly queer or bi characters. I don’t know if it’s because the films have to go through more focus groups that shy away from the terms so that it doesn’t “play in Peoria,” but I’m super over it. Let’s get with the program, Reitman and Co.
Other than that, honestly, this is a pretty flawless film.
Tully is a smart, funny, incredibly well-put-together film that really needs a light shone on it – for queer audiences and the breeders alike. It’s one of Reitman’s best and just further solidifies how much I love Theron’s work. I suggest watching it and having a new “looked-over” film that you can suggest as one of the year’s best at the upcoming Oscar/holiday season and cocktail parties. You’ll start a cult – especially with those struggling for #BiParenting searching for honest representation.