“Mom, what’s wrong with your body?”
Tully is causing an uproar in the mommy blogosphere, and the backlash has left me surprised.
This film reunites director Jason Reitman, writer Diablo Cody and star Charlize Theron, all of whom previously collaborated on one of my personal favorites – Young Adult (2011).
Maybe it’s because I knew what I was getting into and foresaw this not being a cookie-cutter comedy but instead a movie with some deep-rooted depth that wouldn’t please everyone…clearly. Apparently, general audiences saw Tully as being pitched as a realistic and relatable experience to being a mom, which (I agree) it was. But, expectations weren’t met leaving viewers (moms) disappointed and even angry with how the movie unravels. I’m trying really hard not to roll my eyes while I write this.
After reading about the backlash, I decided to dig a little deeper to see what all the fuss was about. As someone who isn’t a mother, I can’t speak for other moms, but I can speak on how the movie affected me personally.
First and foremost, Tully starts an important conversation about motherhood and mental health…the latter which is rarely covered on screen or even spoken about.
The movie follows a mother (Charlize Theron) of three who hires a night nanny (Mackenzie Davis) to help with her newborn daughter.
“The film’s trailer marketed it as an emotion-packed comedy for moms. When I read about the plot twist, I felt misled. If a movie deals with mental health issues, I think the marketing should reflect the real content. These are women interested in fun and a stress-free night out, some of whom are even struggling with actual postpartum depression…I feel betrayed by the makers of Tully. I feel slighted.” Mother and writer Sarah Whitman via The Mighty.
Apparently, this woman has never ever been misled by a marketing campaign nor a movie’s trailer, which, by the way, didn’t come across as anything comedic to me.
“I believe that screenwriter Diablo Cody, director Jason Reitman, and lead actress Charlize Theron owe an apology to every survivor of maternal mental illness,” writes blogger Graeme Seabrook in a post titled “Why I won’t see Tully and why you should think twice before you do,” on a motherhood-centric website called All the Moms.
The main gripe surrounding these moms is not so much that the film misleads, but the fact that the film fails to acknowledge the mental health issues explicitly or “depict the character seeking treatment.” Because, in a perfect world, everyone has the ability and cash flow to seek treatment, right?
I understand their qualms. I do. I get it. But, what they’re failing to realize is that the movie actually raises awareness about maternal mental illness that no other film has really approached headfirst. It shows the side of motherhood that most people fail to acknowledge in movies (and in real life) that it’s really difficult. This movie has stirred up a debate to start talking about this under-discussed topic, and I think that’s a good thing.
Tully’s screenwriter, Diablo Cody, told the New York Times the movie was supposed to make you uncomfortable. “The movie is actually about her lack of treatment,” she said, “Marlo doesn’t get that comfort in this film.”
If this movie was supposed to make audiences uncomfortable, it succeeded. Charlize Theron delivers another remarkable performance and carries the film from start to finish. She actually gained 50 damn pounds just to make the character more realistic and to fully understand what she was going through not just mentally but physically.
Maybe my opinion isn’t entirely valid since I’ve never experienced motherhood, but I’m still going to applaud the movie for starting an important debate and raising awareness on maternal mental illness that no other movie of recent has.