Charlize Theron proves once again just how amazingly versatile she is as an actress in Tully, the new film from the writing-directing team of Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman. Theron previously took the leading role honors in Young Adult, another of Cody and Reitman’s joint efforts. In that film she played up her physical attractiveness in the role of a former high school beauty queen setting her sights on reuniting with a former boyfriend from the days of her youth. This happens in spite of the fact that her former beau is now married. It was a nice insightful film about what happens when people refuse to simply grow up and move on to the next phase of life.

In that respect, Tully represents the next phase that comes when one does indeed make the decision to grow up and become a quote-unquote adult. The actress has gone completely in the opposite direction in Tully, as a stressed out, physically exhausted mother of two, with a third child on the way. The physical transformation of the Oscar winner is so astonishing that you forget this is also the same actress who only last year was the lead character in the actioner, Atomic Blonde.  The difference is almost like night and day.

It isn’t just the physical aspects of the role that Theron inhabits so effectively either. She also manages to hit all the emotional notes as well in just the right way. For anyone who’s a parent, or knows someone intimately that is or has been, this is a character with whom we can easily identify. Theron’s performance goes a long way in selling the film’s message of parenting and how truly an unenviable task it can be for some.

Theron’s character is Marlo. Marlo is really having a hard time after the birth of that third and unexpected child. Her sex life has all but evaporated and she and her husband barely communicate, mostly sleepwalking through their lives and remaining a slave to their routines. All of this changes when her brother, Craig (Mark Duplass) offers to pay for an overnight nanny (Tully, wonderfully embodied by Mackenzie Davis) to shoulder some of the responsibilities Marlo faces on a daily basis. What Marlo doesn’t realize is how integral a part that Tully will be in the lives of her and her children, setting herself up for a devastating loss should the time come for Tully to move on new horizons in the future.    There is a nifty surprise during the final act of Tully that I didn’t see coming that makes it all the more interesting. Even though it arrives out of left field it still feels in synch with the rest of the movie. There is much to embrace and that surprise ending is just icing on this cinematic cake, for lack of a better term. It’s worth seeking out for parents or those thinking of becoming one in the future. You’ll never see parenting in the same way again.

“Tully” is playing in Charlotte at press time.

Image: Charlize Theron in Tully

Questions or comments? Write Adam at [email protected].