May 09

“Tully” Spoiler: Mom Not Just Stressed Out

In our society, there’s something almost transgressive in speaking up and admitting that motherhood is hard and occasionally unrewarding when everyone is quick to point out what a “blessing” it is. Chris Nashawaty,, reviewing Tully

Tully is that film that strives to be more honest about a role many women cherish, on the one hand, while sometimes silently resenting.

A brief intro by Owen Gleiberman, Variety: “In ‘Tully,’ the third collaboration between director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo CodyCharlize Theron plays Marlo, a New York suburban mom with two kids who’s about to give birth to her third.”

John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter, summarizes the plot:

Marlo and husband Drew (Ron Livingston) already had their hands full. Their daughter is on the cusp of an awkward phase, and their son is ‘quirky’ — a demanding special needs kid whose special needs have yet to be labeled. Marlo’s brother (Mark Duplass), who has made money and is busy living a luxury-product life with his too-perfect wife (Elaine Tan), wants to give them the kind of baby present that says ‘you aren’t up to this’: He offers to hire a ‘night nanny,’ who’ll keep watch over the infant while parents get some rest, only waking Mommy when it’s time to breast-feed.

Drew and Marlo reject the offer, but when Marlo nearly goes postal at her son’s school, she reconsiders. Enter Tully [Mackenzie Davis]…


So, who is Tully (Mackenzie Davis)? What we think throughout most of the movie: She’s the night nanny hired by Marlo (Charlize Theron) after the birth of her and her husband’s third child. What we find out: Tully isn’t real, she’s a projection of Marlo’s younger self—maiden name Tully.

Tully, that is, appears to be the result of postpartum psychosis.

As it’s known that Marlo has had a second-child postpartum depression, the implication is that her untreated depression has deepened and worsened into a delusional state.

Alonso Duralde, The Wrap:

Where ‘Tully’ goes…will be a matter of taste, and while I question some of [writer Diablo] Cody’s third-act ideas, I applaud her and Theron for pulling no punches about the agony of parenting; the act of tending to an infant is handled with some of the grimmest humor this side of ‘Eraserhead.’…Theron gives us a brutally realistic portrait of a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Female critic Inkoo Kang, Slate, who rewatched Tully:

…The second time, I was convinced of the film’s brilliance. Knowing the revelation to come, I found the jokes funnier, the details smarter, the foreshadowing more harrowing, and Theron more impressive—simply the way she holds her head, and how her gaze shifts to reflect Marlo’s moods and wavering sense of control. Under a sloppy haircut, she’s achingly hysterical when Marlo turns her spikiness outward and heartbreakingly frustrated when overwhelmed by the demands of her children. You can see in Theron’s overly caffeinated eyes and slumped back the layers of loneliness and self-loathing that finally burst through, demanding change. Their truth, if taken seriously, could reorganize millions of lives.

Controversy has ensued over the plot twist, as some moms would’ve preferred the ability to know the gist of Marlo’s mental health issues in advance. Their decision whether or not to see it, based on how triggering or upsetting it may feel, could’ve been helped by spoiler-like publicized info (that, as in this case, is normally withheld).

“The resulting controversy may do what the film does not: Educate the public about maternal mental health,” concludes Heather Marcoux, Motherly.

Sep 17

Postpartum Mood Disorders and Difficulties

It’s recently been widely reported that singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette, age 38, admits she waited about a year and four months before seeking help for one of the postpartum mood disorderspostpartum depression (PPD), that she had after giving birth to her son in December 2010. She encourages others, however, to be more proactive than that.

A new song of hers, “Numb,” featured on her latest album, Havoc and Bright Lightsis about this postpartum experience.

In a blog post entitled “Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?,” psychologist Shoshana Bennett differentiates between the milder conditions (of the “blues” category) that new moms may experience and the more severe forms—she notes that PPD is the most common of six different types of postpartum mood disorders. Check out the article for further details. offers some things to consider if you’re wondering about having postpartum depression. Just one “yes” answer to any of the questions below may indicate a problem. For more info, click on the link in this paragraph.

  • Are you feeling sad or depressed?
  • Do you feel more irritable or angry with those around you?
  • Are you having difficulty bonding with your baby?
  • Do you feel anxious or panicky?
  • Are you having problems with eating or sleeping?
  • Are you having upsetting thoughts that you can’t get out
    of your mind?
  • Do you feel as if you are “out of control” or “going crazy”?
  • Do you feel like you never should have become a mother?
  • Are you worried that you might hurt your baby or yourself?

Jessica Valenti‘s book Why Have Kids? A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness  was called by Publishers Weekly “a politicized, anti-What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” Valenti writes about suffering from PTSD as a result of her own experience, which involved having an emergency C-section. Although she rose to the occasion in the immediate aftermath, she eventually had serious difficulties that included flashbacks and a sleep disorder.

While some critics wish Jessica Valenti had considered the “why have kids” of her title as a question that could have any possible answer, others are satisfied with the more apt “why (bother to) have kids” interpretation.

From a brief article, “5 Reasons Not to Have Kids,” that Valenti adapted from her book:

  1. Our society does not support mothers. The United States is the only industrialized nation without paid maternity leave, putting families and children at severe economic risk…
  2. Inequality. Women still do the bulk of domestic work whether it’s household chores or raising children. And when previously equal marriages bring babies into the mix, the relationship shifts to a more traditional one…
  3. Happiness. The expectation of a sense of self-worth, pride, joy and completeness that comes with becoming a parent is exaggerated and unobtainable, making the reality all the more harsher when it inevitably descends. Having children does not make people happier…
  4. Money/Maternal Pay Gap. Having children costs a lot of money and resources…
  5. Change/Independence. Having children can disrupt relationships: your friends, colleagues, and most directly your spouse. When women become mothers, they are more likely to report unhappiness in their marriage…

For more details, click on the link above—Valenti, of course, supports her points with some research.