Tully Is an Unconventional Fairy Tale About Mental Health

For Charlize Theron’s exhausted mother of three, help can’t come soon enough.    

Name: Tully

Year: 2018, directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody, who previously teamed up on Juno and Young Adult

Rating: R

Runtime: 96 minutes

Genre: Comedy drama

Watch if You Liked: The shinier Big Little Lies and the way darker Sharp Objects: two series highlighting the complexities of motherhood.

Who You’ll Recognize: Charlize Theron (Mad Max), Mackenzie Davis (Halt and Catch Fire), Mark Duplass (HBO’s Togetherness), and Ron Livingston (HBO’s Sex and the City).

Awards: Theron nabbed a Golden Globe nomination for her starring performance.

Why You Should Watch: Tully starts off as a bit of a bummer. Marlo (Theron) is emotionally and physically depleted, with a third child on the way. Once that little bundle of joy arrives, it only gets worse; she spends her nights breastfeeding and her days packing lunches and cleaning up spills, leaving little to no time to exist separate from her offspring. Then, right as all of it is starting to catch up to her, Brooklyn’s very own Mary Poppins arrives: Tully (Davis), a night nanny who’s there to make Marlo’s life livable. She’s magical — wonderful with kids, sweet, vibrant, responsible — until… well, you’ll have to watch. Although the final twist usually dominates any conversations about Tully, the movie would and does succeed as a raw, funny portrait of motherhood even without the curveball.

Why Now: Motherhood is not all cozy cuddles and moments of gratitude, something that Tully, a film chiefly about postpartum mental illness and the reality of raising kids, paints in detail. This isn’t a comforting film, and that’s intentional. The aching breasts, the sleep deprivation-induced bleakness, the imbalance of parenting responsibilities that many women face are all stunningly and vividly depicted in Cody’s signature style. Example: “I feel like an abandoned trash barge,” Marlo, still pregnant, remarks at one point, before explaining the specific barge she’s referring to.

Best Line Out of Context: “That’s like a Lifetime movie where the nanny tries to kill the family and the mom survives and she has to walk with a cane at the end.”

Minutes You’ll Wait to Call Your Mom After You Watch: Zero. If a woman raised you, watching this movie should come with a free thank-you card (and a trip to the tropical destination of her choice) to send her way.