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‘Tully’ a sympathetic portrait of young motherhood

Night nannies are a relatively new social phenomenon (at least to me) but they’re popular enough these days to have caught the attention of Hollywood.

The new film “Tully,” written by Diablo Cody who won an Oscar for “Juno,” explores the impact a night nanny has on one particularly exhausted mother of three.

Charlize Theron plays Marlo, a thirty-something mom to a perky 8-year-old daughter, a younger son with some developmental difficulties, and a brand-new newborn.

She regrets that she can’t be a super-mom, someone who organizes class parties and makes great cupcakes. And why can’t she? Because she’s just too tired.

Despite her obvious fatigue, though, Marlo’s not exactly thrilled when her wealthy brother offers to pay for some help.

“Do you know what a night nanny is? They take care of the baby at night so mom and dad can get some sleep.

I don’t want a stranger in my house. It’s like a Lifetime movie where the nanny tries to kill the family where the mom survives and she has to walk with a cane at the end. 

Get over yourself.”

Marlo eventually does “get over herself.”

After a humorously frantic montage of her getting up, changing diapers, feeding the baby, going back to bed, getting up, changing diapers, feeding the baby, repeat, repeat, repeat,

AND she catches herself yelling at her son’s principal, she finally succumbs to the allure of a night nanny.

The nanny, Tully, is a 20-something who seems to work miracles. She not only lets Marlo get a good night’s sleep, she also cleans up the messy house and even makes those great cupcakes, all while Marlo’s sleeping.

Tully also becomes Marlo’s confidante.

“Your 20s are great. But then your 30s come around the corner like a garbage truck at 5 a.m.  

“Girls heal.”

“Not we don’t. We might look like we’re all better, but if you look closer we’re covered in concealer.” 

The first two-thirds of “Tully” offers a knowing and funny take on
the downside of young motherhood.

Theron’s performance nails the weariness and the wistfulness of new mothers.

A dramatic and unexpected turn late in the film, however, changes the overall tone and forces a re-evaluation of everything that’s just transpired.

It’s meant to deepen the film but it also limits its scope to some degree.

No matter. “Tully” remains a smart and sympathetic portrait of the strains and stresses of young motherhood.

It just might make for a nice early Mother’s Day treat, too.

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