The first thing I did after breakfast yesterday was buy a copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s latest novel, Adjustment Day. This was an unpredictable decision, as I haven’t read any long-form Palahniuk in a good long while.
The next thing I did was catch an early showing of Tully, a dark comedy from Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman starring Charlize Theron.
Then Tully, almost out of nowhere, turned into a kind of Chuck Palahniuk story.
And just a few paragraphs into reading it, Palahniuk’s new novel turned into something that could easily be found in today’s headlines.
It was a weird Saturday morning.
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Tully is a difficult movie to watch.
And Charlize Theron is brilliant in it.
One could easily see this as a thematic “sequel” to another Cody-Reitman-Theron story, Young Adult, which was equally gripping and disturbing.
By disturbing and difficult, I don’t mean unwatchable or disgusting. I mean so potentially grounded in reality that you can’t help but feel the awkward laughter rising in your gut because, even if you’re nothing like Theron’s character, you know you’re watching something true.
In Tully, Theron plays Marlo, wife of Ron and mother of three (the movie begins with #3 on the way). Upon realizing how utterly defeated she feels with her life-situation after the birth of Mia (#3), Marlo decides to take her brother up on his offer for a “night nanny.” Enter Tully, played deftly by Mackenzie Davis. Watching Marlo and Tully bond over Marlo’s life experience is both awkward and enthralling (the awkward is the first few times Tully comes to work, the enthralling is the period of time that Tully effects real change for Marlo).
Tully is ultimately the story of a lonely woman, wife, and mother, struggling to make sense of her moment in time. Theron and company do an amazing job of helping Marlo’s world feel claustrophobic with a dash of meaninglessness, too. And when the resolution comes, and it comes from an unexpected place, it rings true in a good but difficult way.
“I’m here for the transition,” Tully tells Marlo twice as the story comes to an end. It doesn’t take spouse and children to know that such is life . . . and such is the need for others who can be with us through those transition moments.
(image from nytimes.com)