Film Reviews: Wednesday, November 28, 2002
Tully
Starring Anson Mount and Julianne Nicholson. Directed by Hilary Birmingham. Written by Hilary Birmingham and Matt Drake, based on Tom McNealís story. Not rated.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Farmerís Insurance

A first-time filmmaker makes a striking debut with the slice-of-life drama Tully.

By KRISTIAN LIN

One of the crucial jobs of a movie critic, especially one at an alternative publication, is to alert moviegoers to good films that might fly under the radar because of no big-name stars, a low budget, and a story with no obvious hook. Tully fits all those descriptions. It moves at a deliberate pace thatís proper to its setting, and even though its characters undergo fairly huge life experiences, they themselves only change incrementally.

The movieís title character is Tully Coates Jr. (Anson Mount), who lives and works on the small Nebraska farm owned by his father (Bob Burrus). The laconic Tully Sr. harbors a secret, as men of few words are wont to do. He has told his two sons that their mother died when they were young, but she actually left him without ever giving him a divorce, and her unpaid bills have caused a collection agency to place a lien on the farm. Tully Jr. knocks around in blissful ignorance of this as he spends his free evenings drinking beer and chasing local women. These include Ella Smalley (Julianne Nicholson), a veterinary student who has known him her whole life and knows his reputation yet canít resist him for some reason.

First-time director/co-writer Hilary Birmingham is good at showing how her storyís rural setting is reflected in each major charactersí psychological makeup: Tully Jr.ís live-for-the-moment philosophy born from the lack of anything to do, Tully Sr.ís combination of experience and naÔvetť, and Ellaís goal-oriented work ethic. Using a low-key visual style and dialogue-dependent scenes that unfurl at an appropriately slow pace, Birmingham does justice to the complexity of these people.

The actors render the characters impressively. Mount registered nothing as a serial killerís victim in Urban Legend: Final Cut or Britney Spearsí boyfriend in Crossroads, but here heís alert, expressive, and charismatic ó you can see why the local women consider him catnip. Meanwhile, Nicholson is fresh and appealing, and her unconventional attractiveness is put to far better use than it is in her role on tvís Presidio Med or her brief stint on the dying days of Ally McBeal. Making his film debut is Burrus, an actor from Louisville, Ky.ís regional theater scene, and he touchingly depicts Tully Sr.ís private pain and his vain hope that his wife may come back to him.

The independent film journals these days are full of laments about the death of indie film, but what theyíre really referring to is the New York-based scene that flourished in the 1990s. The times have changed, and Tully is an example of what a low-budget indie film looks like now. With its intelligent storytelling, honest acting, and a plot that doesnít depend on a gimmick, itís proof that good filmmaking can still flourish outside Hollywood.


Email this Article...

Back to Top


Copyright 2002 to 2017 FW Weekly.
3311 Hamilton Ave. Fort Worth, TX 76107
Phone: (817) 321-9700 - Fax: (817) 335-9575 - Email Contact
Archive System by PrimeSite Web Solutions