When my first marriage was coming to an end, I made a list of the worst-case scenarios that could happen in order to keep things in perspective.
Here’s what I thought were the bottom five most terrible things that could happen to me:
4. Get Divorced
3. Get severely injured in an accident so I can no longer walk or be active.
2. Have kids
1. Get tortured
You know that feeling when you look at the clock on your computer at work and discover that you still have three long hours to go before quitting time? That’s how parenthood sounds to me. Except instead of three hours, you have 25 years to go before you get to stop working. 25 years during which you are often tired and always worried about money.
“Tully” is a rare film that explores parenthood in terms that make sense to me: as an existential life crisis.
Charlize Theron is magnificent as a 40 year old mom named Marlo.
In her 20s, Marlo was a cool Brooklynite. She was a bohemian bisexual libertine. She was the kind of person who makes dark clever quips during a conversation and doesn’t care that most people aren’t quick enough to get her jokes.
Now Marlo is a suburban mom. When we meet her, she is about to give birth to her third child, and it is no secret that it was an accidental pregnancy.
After the new baby is born, director Jason Reitman gives us a frighteningly realistic montage of Marlo’s life. From her perspective, existence has become an endless, meaningless series of diaper changes, loud rides to school, and late-night breast pumping while watching bad reality TV.
Marlo is frazzled and starting to lose her mind. Then Tully shows up.
Tully is the Night Nanny that they hired to take care of the new baby so that Marlo can relax for a few hours and get some sleep.
But young Tully (Mackenzie Davis) ends up being much more than that. She also sees it as her mission help Marlo gain a new perspective on motherhood, self-esteem, and happiness. Tully is Mary Poppins and Dr. Ruth mixed together in one extremely good-looking package.
Screenwriter Diablo Cody (“Juno”) has written her masterpiece. “Tully” is a deep, empathetic character study of a smart woman on the edge of sanity. This is what all chick flicks would be like if I ran Hollywood.
“Tully” is a perfect film that reminds us that life changes in ways that you never expect.
I was certainly wrong about my worst-case scenario list when I was getting divorced. Divorce is much more wonderful than death.
Maybe I am wrong about the first and second items on my list, too. Having kids is probably the very worst thing that could happen to me. Torture might be tolerable if it doesn’t go on for too long, right?