Just hours before the fruit of my loins breathed his first lungful of sweet oxygen and the existential chasm of parenthood yawned open before me, I sat down with Tully…
Give me The Babadook any day.
A WORD of warning to expectant parents – from The Omen to We Need To Talk About Kevin, there is a brand of feature film that delights in terrifying the bejesus out of those about to embark on the mundane mayhem that is birthing and raising a small human being.
Tully (which your reviewer had the squirming pleasure of seeing hours before their child’s due date) knows exactly what it is doing as it displays a bedraggled mother close to snapping point while her unruly genetic spawn ride roughshod over her nerves and youth.
The good news is that director Jason Reitman (reuniting with Juno and Young Adult writer Diablo Cody) applies charming band aids before any lasting harm is done. Charlize Theron is brilliantly shagged-out as Marlo, readying herself for Baby #3 when we meet her. Husband drew (Ron Livingston) is out all day, leaving her to fend off manic children, patronising school officials and the steady erosion of sleep deprivation that is added to the mix once the new baby arrives.
When her smug brother hires a night nanny for her as a present, Marlo is initially sceptical about a stranger coming in to bond with her baby. Then the doorbell rings. In walks salvation in the form of a fresh-faced, lithe and strangely magnetic super-nanny called Tully (Mackenzie Davis).
Just as you think Tully is heading off in one direction, it veers off into something else, and depending on the type of person you are, this will either seem perfectly in-keeping with its Mary Poppins underlay or feel decidedly corny. Theron and Davis bounce effortlessly off each other as Reitman and Cody once again locate thematic depth near to the kitchen sink.
First published in the Sunday Independent