An open love letter to Charlize Theron

Let me start by saying if you haven’t seen the film Tully (which, unless you’re a keeno like me you won’t have because it only came out yesterday), you might wanna hold off/not read this. I’ll try to stay as spoiler-free as possible but want to talk through a few scenes that may, well, spoil it for you. So there you are, you have been warned.

Soon as I see the trailer for Tully, I knew I’d go and see it at the cinema. For those of you who don’t know, the very basic plot is of a mum of three who enlists the help of a nanny, and the trailer depicts a lot of struggling mum scenes so I was all over it. Not only that, it has Charlize Theron playing the mum, and ever since seeing her faultless performance in Monster, I’ve loved her. There’s something about her I really like. Maybe it’s the roles she plays, maybe it’s because she comes across like she doesn’t take any shit off anyone, who know, whatever it is, I think she’s ace. Annnnnnyway, I digress.

So my sister and I went to see Theron do her stuff yesterday, and once again, she didn’t disappoint. Her depiction of an exhausted, ‘at my witt’s end’, trying to do 85 things at once, mother of three is nothing short of brilliant. That putting your kids in the car then screaming ‘FUCK’ before you get in yourself, that willing your newborn to take a dummy because you simply can’t take any more crying, that putting on a brave face to everyone around you while inside your world is actually crashing down around you… she nailed it.

I could see myself in so much of her character. The guilt that comes with motherhood, the change in relationships, the lack of sex drive, the body shaming, the judgement, the finding half hour to exercise but feeling the whole time like you can’t keep up, Tully has it all. And I have to applaud director Jason Reitman and Theron for depicting such a true account of motherhood. Because a lot of what is shown in this film is my truth.

I spent the entire 90 minutes of this film gripped, full of understanding, empathy and emotion. And while I found myself choking back tears at some points, Tully also left me feeling hugely reassured that I’m not alone in my daily struggles, or in how soul destroying the monotony of the ‘same’ can sometimes be.

I’m pregnant – please, (don’t) tell me what you think

The moments that stuck with me the most were, firstly, and this is a scene that I both loved and hated in equal measures, when a very heavily pregnant Theron orders a decaf coffee while out and about. As she does so, a woman in the queue – a stranger to Theron – tells her there’s still a small amount of caffeine in a decaf. At this point, the barista asks her if she still wants it and she tenativaly says yes, only for the ‘helpful’ woman to shake her head in disgust.

When I was pregnant, I never had anyone outwardly question my choices. But I sure as shit encountered judgment. Looks I got when enjoying a (yes, one) glass of wine with an anniversary dinner, tuts and head shakes I got when people asked if I was still doing Crossfit while pregnant, etc. I don’t know why people all of a sudden think it’s ok to be so forward with their opinions when they can see you’re having a baby. It’s weirdly like your child becomes public property and therefore the way you conduct yourself is open to comment and criticism.

I understand that, for the most part, the people who do this are coming from a good place. However, what I think they don’t understand is that a) it’s not their baby and therefore have no right to say fucking anything and b) they’re playing a very dangerous game with a lot of already vulnerable mums-to-be. I was worried from day one about whether I’d be a natural/good mum, and so to be judged and questioned before Rex was even born really didn’t help the seed of doubt that was quickly growing in my mind. I love that the film addressed this as it happens so often and will hopefully (although I doubt) make ‘kind’ strangers think before they speak. But it also made me want to shout at the screen for the decaf coffee police lady to mind her own fucking business.

A whole load of empty

The next few scenes I’m going to talk about are the ones that hit me the hardest, just because they were so relatable. The first was when Theron gives birth to her third child. In the moments after, the camera lingers on her face and she has no expression or emotion. She just sits there with a blank face.

Nothing.

All I could think of was how I felt exactly the same after Rex was born, and how I will never forgive myself for not having that ‘over the moon’ feeling. In all the things I expected when having a baby, feeling empty at first was not one of them.

The second scene that I struggled to watch was near the end of the film, where Theron’s husband looks at her, eyes filled with love and desperation, and says ‘I just want you to be OK’. I have lost count of the amount of times Eamo has looked at me in the exact same way and said the exact same thing. And it made my heart break a little. I can’t begin to imagine how hard it is to see the person you love slip further and further away from you and not always see it’s happening and even when you do, not be able to do anything to stop or fix it. It really made me think about how hard all of this has been – and still is – on him, and if I’ll ever be able to make it right again.

Finally, the film ends with Theron asking her son what he would like to do, and he replies ‘I just like to be near you’. Man, that fucking broke me. It made me think/realise that kids don’t give a rats ass about your flaws. All they care about is that you’re there. All they want is that love and safety, and nothing else matters. As Theron’s son declared his love and wrapped his arms around her neck, I felt a huge lump in my throat at the thought that one day Rex will do and say the same to me. And I cannot wait.

If by some fucking miracle you ever read this Charlize, you are wonderful. And if you’re ever in Bath, give me a shout, there’s a decaf coffee and a muffin here with your name on it 😉 #legend

 


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