Play Time

Marlo and Drew and Baby Makes Five

by Cynthia Citron on May 10, 2018


So what happens when Cinderella finally marries the Prince? Well, sometimes it isn’t all glass slippers and carriages made from pumpkins. Sometimes she winds up on the other side of wedded bliss.

As introduced in screenwriter Cody Diablo’s new film, “Tully”, a harried housewife and mother, a woman named Marlo, begins to tell her story. Marlo, impeccably portrayed by Charlize Theron, has two children: a bossy little 8-year-old girl (Lia Frankland) and an angry, disturbed younger boy (Asher Miles Fallica) who appears to have some form of autism. Further, Marlo is about ten months pregnant with an unplanned and not happily anticipated third child. And judging by the size of her stomach, this baby must weigh at least 50 pounds.

Her husband Drew (Ron Livingston) is a good man, but inconsistently attentive to his wife and children. His work involves a great deal of traveling, which leaves Marlo alone with the housework, the cooking, the laundry, and their addled son, who persists in non-stop screaming and ferociously kicking the back of her seat as she drives the two kids to school. Is it any wonder that she is not looking forward to this new baby?

The new baby, whom they name Mia, is born cranky and with a jagged cry that would wake a vampire. She cries when her diaper is full, and when she is hungry, and any other time she feels like it. And Marlo quickly becomes exhausted as well as unapologetically indifferent to her…

It’s a full-fledged case of post-partum depression compounded by guilt because any mother who doesn’t want to hold or play with her new baby has to feel guilty about this “unnatural rejection” of motherhood. Moreover, anyone who has ever suffered this kind of depression will feel it acutely as Theron grapples with it and falls deeper and deeper into self-recrimination and despair.

But help is on the way. Marlo’s brother Craig (Mark Duplass), whose successful career has provided him with money to spare, hires a “night nanny” to see to Mia’s needs and give Marlo a chance to get some sleep.

This nanny, named Tully, (Mackenzie Davis) is a magical creature with a gift for happiness and, in addition to taking care of the baby, she cleans the house, bakes fancifully decorated cupcakes, and becomes the friend that Marlo needs to talk and share adventures with. So, in effect, Tully becomes, to continue the Cinderella analogy, Marlo’s very own Fairy Godmother.

And finally, as Marlo begins to thrive again under Tully’s wise ministrations, Drew finds other things to do at night besides lying in bed listening to TV movies through his earphones. He pays attention to his wife, plays with his kids, and cuddles the baby. And they all live happily ever after.

“Tully” is lovingly directed by Jason Reitman. It is described as a “comedy/drama” but the emphasis is on the drama because there is so much angst that you could only empathize as Charlize Theron lived through it.

“Tully” was released in Los Angeles on May 4 and is now showing at theaters around the city.