Directed by: Jason Reitman
Run time: 95 minutes
The Lowdown: We all have that actor or actress who represents our inner spirit.
For me, the actor would undoubtedly be scuzzy Brad Pitt, the unpredictable, uncontrollable Brad Pitt from Fight Club, Se7en and Snatch (not the pretty Brad Pitt of Interview with a Vampire, Meet Joe Black or Legends of the Fall).
And Charlize Theron is that actress for me. She just has a language that speaks to me. Whether she’s kicking holy ass in Atomic Blonde or vamping it up in Snow White and the Huntsman, there’s rarely a cinematic journey I won’t take with her as my guide.
That’s what makes Tully such a wonderful, revelatory delight. This is a beautiful and blistering tell-all about what happens when parenthood arrives just past the intersection of ability and desire. Sure, you can handle the baby routine, but do you really want to?
In Tully, Theron boldly and bravely exposes the internal turmoil that I suspect many mothers feel. While parenting for some becomes the equivalent of performance art, where you put on your best face despite the obstacles flying in your path, Tully is painfully, refreshingly real. The truth is none of us know how the fuck to navigate life gracefully or perfectly, so why should we pretend?
Theron so fully inhabits her role that, at times, Tully feels like an orientation video into the horrors and headaches of parenthood, so much so that I literally found myself nodding along in agreement. ‘Oh for sure, that would happen to me.’ Nod. ‘See, this is why it’s better for me not to have had children.’ Nod.
Another revelation that the film delivers is just how good and underappreciated Mackenzie Davis is as an actress.
As the title character, a night-nurse-for-hire, who arrives to provide relief to Theron’s overwhelmed Marlo, who’s already dealing with a special needs child, she consistently spouts good advice without sounding like a walking Hallmark card, which allows Theron’s Marlo to swat each nugget of truth down like King Kong hanging off the Empire State Building and battering biplanes.
Tully: You can’t fix the parts without treating the whole.
Marlo: Yeah, my whole hasn’t been treated in a long time.
In fact, almost all of the exchanges between the main characters resonate with truth and authenticity.
Marlo: The night nurse is downstairs.
Drew (husband): Oh yeah? What’s she like?
Drew: Are we just going to leave her down there with Mia?
Marlo: Yeah…I guess.
It should come as no surprise that Tully was written by Diablo Cody, who somehow keeps improving as a writer, which is inspiring to someone like me as a writer. Cody has always delivered crisp, razor-sharp wordplay, but she levels-up with Tully, surpassing even her previous best. Her voice takes flight and her words sweep you up, like the way you feel when you hear a church choir. Regardless if you’re religious or not, when you hear a gospel choir belting out a hymnal to the fullest of their potential, you can’t help but believe in the message because the emotion of their voices makes you feel something deep down inside.
And, with Tully, Cody just delivers one devastating observation after another until the abundance of brilliance on display seems unreal or otherworldly.
Margo: Girls don’t heal.
Tully: Girls heal.
Margo: No, we don’t. We might look like we’re all better, but if you look close, we’re covered in concealer.
Before I watched Tully, I thankfully read a blurb that advised the curious not to read any reviews for fear of a critic spoiling something major that happens in the third act. Boy howdy, am I glad I took that advice.
Suffice to say, there is a huge – HUGE – development late in the proceeding that will not only fuck your brain sideways, but deepen your appreciation for what Cody and director Jason Reitman have accomplished.
Do not, I repeat, do not pass up the chance to watch Tully. This one is destined to be a cult classic in a genre (dramedy) that rarely aspires, much less actually produces such a delight.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Yes.
Nudity – No.
Gore – No.
Drug use – Yes.
Bad Guys/Killers – No.
Buy/Rent – Buy it.
Piranha II: The Spawning
Now on Video-on-Demand:
Face of Evil (Gravitas Ventures, 90 minutes, Unrated, Video-on-Demand): Face of Evil, the debut feature from writer-director Vito Dinatolo, is one half of a good movie, but what it does do exceptionally well is introduce Dinatolo as a creative force you’re going to want to follow.
The first half of the film, which is the weakest part, focuses on Jay (Scott Baxter), a military soldier returning from deployment. Basically, it’s the worst homecoming ever.
Jay is emotionally stunted from his combat experience. His best friend is a stoner asshole who makes terrible jokes. His sister looks mortified at the behavior of the motley crew she’s gathered to celebrate Jay’s return. And then his drunk ex-girlfriend crashes the party looking like she just won Hooker of the Year.
Jay tries to retreat inside to his former room, which is now packed floor to ceiling with boxes, while he digs in his luggage for his “magic bottle,” an elixir he brought back from Afghanistan.
Drunk hooker ex-girlfriend finds the bottle, drinks half of it and then pukes in Jay’s face while they are getting frisky. Suddenly, drunk hooker ex-girlfriend is possessed drunk hooker ex-girlfriend. She goes on a killing spree, taking out several of Jay’s friends, who immediately reanimate and join her in the hunt.
The thing you notice about Face of Evil is that while the first half of the film feels wholly redundant as far as subject matter, it’s filmed exceptionally well, it’s fast-paced and Dinatolo employs some seriously creative camerawork.
Thankfully, the second half of Face of Evil takes a wicked swerve into surreal new landscapes. Jay has a chance encounter with Sarge (Chad Bishop), his former commander, who just happens to be at the same gas-n-sip convenience store that Jay goes to after fleeing his house and the carnage of the homecoming disaster.
Right away, you know something is up. Sarge has lots of intel on what is happening to Jay, and it involves a virus that the military attempted to experiment with. The only person who can help, he says, is a military doctor named Smith.
Suddenly, Face of Evil morphs into a crazy road-trip from hell. There’s a great scene set inside a dive bar where Jay’s virus-delirium causes his PTSD to kick into overdrive. Every sound and visual cue inside the bar becomes a trigger. Jay snaps, and it’s gloriously gory.
If you’re a fan of Fight Club or Jacob’s Ladder, or if you’ve ever wondered what a mash-up of two such epic films might spawn, BVB is here to recommend you check out Face of Evil.