By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated March 17, 2020 at 02:46 AM EDT
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Tully

B+
type
  • Movie

Hilary Birmingham used to work as director of development for documentarian Barbara Kopple (”Wild Man Blues”), and something of Kopple’s unhurried, verité sensibility can be glimpsed in Birmingham’s notable feature-film debut, Tully. Set in small-town Nebraska, with a script by Birmingham and Matt Drake (based on an O. Henry Prize-winning short story by Tom McNeal), this quiet, sturdy, unshowy tale moves to the plain, honest rhythms of farm life. But within the inevitability of crops, chores, and changing weather (beautifully photographed by John Foster), the believable young people growing on this plot of soil are never predictable; neither are the unmannered, affecting performances.

When it first won attention at film festivals two years ago, the movie was called ”The Truth About Tully.” (Distribution stalled when releasing companies collapsed; then ”The Truth About Charlie” took title right-of-way.) And, indeed, surprising truths about honeyed Tully Coates Jr. (Anson Mount) and his flinty father, Tully Sr. (Bob Burrus), are at the heart of the drama. But Birmingham’s innate sense of how to rein in lyricism so that it avoids syrupism keeps most of the short-storyish revelations within the realm of the real, while Mount’s charged interaction with an entrancing Julianne Nicholson as the only girl in town not susceptible to Junior’s charms keeps the movie within the realm of sexy.

Tully

type
  • Movie
mpaa
  • UNRATED
runtime
  • 102 minutes
director
  • Hilary Birmingham

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