Traditionally, Hollywood has a way of placing motherhood in a box—portrayed in one of several stereotypical categories. There's the "perfect" mom, the frazzled mom, the party mom, the list goes on. But as those of us in the trenches of parenthood know, there's no such thing as a one-dimensional person, let alone mama. And that's just one of the cliches Tully hopes to shatter with its raw, sometimes light-hearted, but mostly intense look at life, family, and postpartum depression.
"I feel like this movie made me feel less alone as a parent," Charlize Theron told Parents.com during a press day for the film. "I've lived what I think a lot of moms and parents live. It's this idea that parenting is just one thing and if it's anything other than that then it's kind of filled with shame and you're not doing it right. If only one person, and that's the writer, that's Diablo [Cody], and I can share this then I'm happy. The whole crew… it was almost like a validation. Everyone is connecting to this on that level."
During production, there were a couple of pointed mommy pitfalls Theron, Cody, and director Jason Reitman wanted to avoid. For example, you may notice Marlo, Theron's character, is sans lip gloss as she goes about her days with the kids. They also wanted to go deeper than one of the standard parenting hazards you hear in movies (and real life).
"The complaint of, 'Oh, I'm not getting sleep, I'm not getting sleep,'" says Reitman. "That's what you hear all of the time in movies. We wanted to get into richer detail than that."
And they do. As Theron points out, Tully dives deeper into who Marlo is as a person, apart from being a mother, tackling questions and issues that arise in everyone's life, regardless of age or gender.
"That's what really got to me. It's not just a movie about parenthood," she says. "It's not just a movie about postpartum depression. It's a movie about something much bigger that I think you can relate to whether you're a parent or not. Am I living the life I'm supposed to? Is this what I'm supposed to be doing at this age? Am I hitting the mark? That's something I think anybody can relate to. I think we all go through that."
Poignant with a dash of humor, in many ways Tully is a coming-of-age story well into adulthood, long after society has already expected us to transform into the people we're "supposed" to be. And we could all appreciate feeling a little less alone in that.
"It's why we go to the movies, right?" says Reitman. "To sit in an audience and laugh at things together and cry at things together and feel like we're not alone in all of this."
Tully is now in theaters.