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film review

Mackenzie Davis, left, as Tully and Charlize Theron as Marlo in Tully.Kimberly French / Focus Features/Focus Features

  • Directed by: Jason Reitman
  • Written by: Diablo Cody
  • Starring: Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis
  • Classification: 14A; 96 minutes

Rating:

3 out of 4 stars

As a Facebook reminder made clear late last week, there are far too many unnecessary commemorative “days” crowding the social calendar. Earth Day. Sibling Day. Blueberry Pie Day. Sense of Smell Day. (These are all real, and all occur during the month of April.) So I don’t think it’s a stretch to propose a Charlize Theron Day. The actor has been so good, for so long, that she deserves at least 24 hours’ worth of recognition.

Take Theron’s work in Tully, for instance. The latest collaboration between Theron, director Jason Reitman, and screenwriter Diablo Cody takes all the deliberately uncomfortable beats from the trio’s previous production Young Adult and gently twists them into something new and bracing. Here, Theron plays a stressed mother of three, who in desperation takes up her wealthy brother’s offer to hire a “night nanny.”

When the punky Mary Poppins figure (Mackenzie Davis) arrives, Theron is allowed the opportunity to revel in a sea of conflicting emotions – guilt, jealousy, long-repressed autonomy – a challenge she pulls off easily. Cody’s third-act twist threatens to unravel Theron’s hard work; yet, somehow, the power of Tully remains firmly in Theron’s skilled and capable hands.