I have been excited to see Tully since the first trailer came out in January. I had just had my third child, and I couldn’t wait to see a movie that seemed to perfectly describe my experience with motherhood. My friends and I were making plans to see it a few days ago, when I started reading the comments on the movie trailers, and boy was I disappointed. Comment after comment said, “This movie is not what you think it is,” “Read more before you go,” “This shouldn’t be advertised as a comedy.”
*** MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD ***
So I did more research and discovered that Tully, the night nurse, is actually a figment of Marlo’s imagination (Charlize Theron’s character). Marlo has postpartum psychosis (PPP), which is actually inaccurately labeled as postpartum depression in the film. Many mental health advocates are upset about this because they feel her PPP was misrepresented and mishandled, as Marlo is not shown to receive psychiatric care in the film.
Some women are very upset that the film uses a severe mental illness as a Hollywood plot twist, but as most of us have not seen the yet, we don’t know how it was handled. Other films have been lauded for similar plot twists, such as A Beautiful Mind. I hope Tully uses this to bring awareness to some mental health struggles that mothers experience; however, with a background in mental health, I can tell you that misdiagnosing and skipping treatment are not appropriate ways to handle any mental health issue. So we’ll have to reassess this once the movie debuts in theaters.
In addition to misrepresenting Marlo’s PPP, many doulas are upset about a scene where Tully has sex with Marlo’s husband to compensate for Marlo’s diminished sex drive. The critique here is that doulas are not sex slaves, and some women are very angry about this representation. I felt like this was a pretty heated concern that did not factor in artistic license. First of all, I hope we all know doulas are not sex workers, and focusing on this misses the point of the scene: Marlo feels unable to meet the needs of her husband, and she is desperate for help. Tully sleeping with her husband is the manifestation of this struggle; it is not meant to be an accurate description of a doula’s responsibilities. It shows how Marlo wishes she could be her younger self and engage in an activity she probably used to enjoy with her husband.
I feel like this is a pretty accurate representation of motherhood during the fourth trimester. As women, we are still recovering physically and emotionally, and although some women are ecstatic to be able to have sex after the 6 week mark, others are simply too exhausted, and some ride a libido/exhaustion roller coaster. I haven’t met a women yet who would actually want someone to sleep with her husband, but what the scene depicts is desperation to meet everyone’s needs. I think we can all identify with that. She is simply a mom trying to take care of her family.
Although I feel like the incensed rage regarding this scene is somewhat misguided, I was also upset to hear about this scene, but for a very different reason. This actually has to do with my critique about the film in general. This film is being marketed as a COMEDY. The pivotal plot points discussed above do not lead me to believe this is simply a comedy, and I feel the marketing team has misled us.
I have very little free time to take care of myself since becoming a mother, and I am discerning about how I spend this time. I thought this movie was going to be a woman’s bonding movie like Bridesmaids: a reason to get all of your girlfriends together, leave the kids at home, throw back a glass of wine, and laugh about how ridiculous motherhood is. I didn’t expect Tully to be as goofy, and I expected some darker undertones because motherhood is suffering with a little love thrown in; however, I did not expect to watch an uncomfortable scene with a wife instructing her doula on what her husband enjoys in the bedroom, and I did not expect to watch a mother struggle with PPP. These are very serious topics, and I deserve to know what I’m walking into before seeing a movie. If I want to watch something dark and heavy, I will, but that’s not how this movie is being advertised.
This could be a wonderful movie with insightful themes, engaging scenes, and full bodied characters; however, mothers should not be tricked into seeing a somewhat lighthearted film, only to be bulldozed over in the end. Our kids bulldoze us down all day every day. When I’m looking to engage in some self-care, I want a break from that.
After having this conversation with my friends, we’ve decided not to see the movie. I’m sure I’ll watch it at some point at home, once it’s out of theaters. I absolutely love Charlize Theron, and it looks like she’s done a wonderful job. Honestly, the movie looks like it’s been really well put together. I just don’t have the energy in me right now to watch anymore real suffering and heartache. I’ll be skipping the opening of this film. What about you?