First Hit: I was genuinely surprised by the ending of this powerful film about motherhood.
Marlo (Charlize Theron) is 9 months pregnant, mother of two other children Emmy (Maddie Dixon-Poirer) and Jonah (Asher Miles Fallica), and wife to Craig (Mark Duplass). The family home is rather chaotic and stems, in-part, because of Jonah’s “quirky” presence and because motherhood has wiped her out and taken her spirit.
Craig is a good husband, it is apparent that he loves his wife and does support the family process by doing their children’s homework with them and helping Marlo to make the children’s lunches. There is a scene towards the end of the film that shows this sweetness and togetherness.
Marlo’s brother Drew (Ron Livingston) has made it financially and as his new baby gift to his sister offers to pay for a night nanny to assist his worn-out sister.
She resists because she perceives that this will show weakness and a lack of ability. After the new baby arrives, her worn out life gets worse and there is little she can do given the pressure of Jonah’s school is asking her to remove Jonah because of his “quirky” behavior, along with trying to meet the new baby’s needs.
She resigns herself to making the call to a night nanny. Tully (Mackenzie Davis) arrives one evening with a bright open smile, lots of empathy, and skills far beyond her age of 26. Each evening Tully arrives and takes over the care of the new baby Mia. She brings Mia up to Marlo for the night feedings, sits and watches until the feeding is complete, and takes Mia back downstairs.
Tully, also cleans the house, bakes cupcakes and does lots of other things that release Marlo from the heaviness of raising a newborn at night. Because she’s now getting sleep, Marlo becomes more present and active with her children and starts to make elaborate meals for her family instead of the “frozen pizza” dinner she often throws down.
Tully and Marlo become friends and what they share together slowly reveals who Marlo is, who Tully is, and Marlo's love for Craig.
This film speaks directly and pointedly to the difficulties many women have being a mother. For this alone, many men need to see this film.
Theron is dynamic in this role. Not only did she put on about fifty pounds to make the role feel real for her and the audience, her embodiment of the frustration of raising children was spot on. Davis as Tully was amazing. I loved her joyful embrace of being an empathetic, smart, supportive nanny. Duplass was very good as the caring loving husband who needed to learn more about helping his wife. Dixon-Poirer was wonderful as the daughter. Her slow emerging as part of the family was great. Fallica was excellent as the quirky young boy. His ability to slowly evolve as Marlo evolves was perfect. Diablo Cody wrote an excellent script and the film’s direction by Jason Reitman made this story come alive through great acting.
Overall: I was truly moved by the representation of motherhood, family, and life as this film unfolded.