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Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Scriptwriter Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman successfully team up for the third of their trilogy of witty, dark and perceptive movies about women. (Reviewed by Patrick Compton 8/10)

Every woman who’s had a child will surely empathise with the familiar situation that Marlo (brilliantly played by Charlize Theron) finds herself in.

Hugely pregnant with her third, Marlo is mother to two demanding young children – particularly her “quirky” son – and wife to an amiable, useless husband (goofily played by Ron Livingston) who works hard during the day but then “goes upstairs, puts on a headset, kills zombies, and passes out”.

There’s an early montage that spells out the mess that Marlo’s in with sardonic humour as we see exploding diapers, fractured nights, screaming children, growing exhaustion and a husband who sleeps through it all.

But help is at hand. Marlo’s rich brother Craig (Mark Duplass) offers to underwrite the expense of a night nurse, an angel of mercy who will come into the house every evening, look after the baby and put everything to rights. Marlo initially demurs, with pride at stake, but then, after one grisly domestic crisis too many, finally relents.

Peace breaks out. Marlo is restored, the children appeased and even the non-existent sex life of the couple is given a jolt. Most importantly, however, Marlo and the nurse, Tully (Mackenzie Davis), develop an important, sanity-saving relationship.

Reitman and Diablo Cody go well together, along with Theron. The director and screenwriter began their creative liaison with Juno (2007). Ellen Page was the impressive star of that film, while Cody won the Oscar for her dazzling script. Latterly Page has been replaced, to great effect, by Theron in the later movies beginning with Young Adult (2011).

Once again, South Africa’s finest has taken her artistic responsibilities seriously, much like she did in her Oscar-winning film Monster. The actress put on about 20kg to play the pregnant mom, and she does a magnificent job of it, showing us that having a baby isn’t for sissies – particularly if your husband is a less than helpful partner.

The film’s high spots are almost entirely focused on the relationship between mother and night nurse and there’s tremendous chemistry between Theron and Davis. The pair eventually crown their relationship with a night on the town, allowing Reitman and Cody to spring a twist that may disappoint some filmgoers who had happily followed in the movie’s wake up to that point.

Never mind if that proves to be the case. The film’s considerable strengths – Theron’s superb central performance, Davis's effervescent support and Cody’s witty, sometimes dark script – should prove more than enough to make your visit worthwhile.

Tully opened at Gateway, Umhlanga Ridge, on May 11. - Patrick Compton