Motherhood and Emotional Intimacy in Tully 2018 | Film Review (Spoilers)

I’m not too big on watching movies these days, but Tully jumped out at me with its premise of realness, when a mother of three hires a night nanny to help with her newborn. Showcasing daily specifics of early motherhood, like the feeling of a newborn curling up in your hands, or trying to cut their tiny nails while keeping them from fidgeting. Any of these scenes below, really, caught my eye:

There are so many key memories we lose with time, which, incidentally, is my theory for why people keep adding more children to their growing family: the pain disappears and all that’s left is remembering how worth it was to get to where you are now. The good overshadows the not-so-pleasant moments, in most cases.

(Spoilers from here.)

I cherish dialogue-driven stories, so Tully’s introduction as the night nanny made for a turning point for me in the film. What ensues is the epitome of acceptance between two people.

“You two were so separate, but then so connected. How did you develop that? Because that magic just wasn’t in the script.” x

Marlo and Tully listen to each other with open hearts and warm eyes. They never dismiss what the other one wants to spill out (quite literally in one scene). It’s a tender acceptance that doesn’t rely on any outside factor. A scene that remain most stark in my mind is when Tully, instead of mocking or judging Marlo’s peculiar TV show preferences, takes this opportunity to learn her on a deeper level by asking sincere questions. Their deep discussions – nothing off limits – is all that Marlo and her husband should’ve been practicing to repair the gaping wound in their relationship.

That is until the reveal comes that, all along, Marlo was talking to her younger self… And something inside of me can’t easily let all that character-build go within the last 1/3 of the film.

For a movie that succeeds at openly diving into the vast hidden world of parenthood, it veered a sharp left at the end by delivering your typical Hollywood catch; a movie can never just be a movie without some shock deliverance. It’s even funnier that Tully has a scene making fun of this exact phenomena in movies, yet settles for a similar blow…

MARLO
Why have a baby if you’re not willing to put in the time? Sleep deprivation is part of the deal. Besides, I don’t want some stranger in my house bonding with my newborn at night. That’s like a Lifetime movie where the nanny tries to kill the mom and the mom wins but still walks with a cane for the rest of her life.

Again, the twist is a wonderful concept to explore, regarding self-care, but this is not what Tully build from the start. We were invested in the growing and accepting companionship between Marlo and Tully that entails staying up late talking about anything and everything into the night, like the “Ship of Theseus” paradox or daily anxieties, while caring for the newborn .

I had to mull over the plot twist multiple days (and vent to my mom) to come to the final conclusion that it didn’t work in my favor. The message it reverberates of “I was just here to bridge a gap” is a fascinating one to develop, but I feel like the execution of it failed in this film, when taking into consideration the major working point it has of featuring such an impacting and disarming bond between Marlo and Tully that’s so rare to experience these days… There’s just too much there to dismiss it with one scene.

This engulfs so much of them. Which springs to mind another quietly stirring scenario, right before the hit:

MARLO
I’m so tired.
TULLY
I know. But I need you to stay with me. Let’s have a conversation.
MARLO
All we do is converse. We’re like the people in a Spanish textbook. Maria and Julio, they never shut up.
(then)
What am I going to do without you?

♫When you’re screaming, but they only hear you whisper
I’ll be loud for you
I’ll be loud for you♫

Tully hears Marlo loud and clear when no one else does, which makes sense for the plot twist: you know yourself better than anyone else. So I get the direction this movie was striving towards, but I still feel like some preparation and clues sprinkled throughout would’ve gone a long way.

In the end, the film succeeds at sharing many insights with the viewers, so I can’t let one bad part shatter all the good it build prior. In a way, the twist opened an exciting gateway of conversations to circle around the idea of self-acceptance. The good overshadows the not-so-pleasant moments, as my aforementioned theory states.

I’ll end my review favorably with picturesque scenes:

Be sure to check out the trailer, which perfectly captures the themes established in the movie, here:

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 09.46.55Support creators you love. Buy a Coffee for nat (bookspoils) with Ko-fi.com/bookspoils

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