While walking in a junkyard, a character says, “This place has a lot of treasures.” That statement could also be used to describe one of the many powerful scenes that are treasures in this film. Not that this film is anything close to a junkyard. Nominated for a few Independent Spirit Awards in major categories, Tully is a moving film that uses several wonderfully understated performances to tell its story about a troubled family.
On a Nebraska farm, patriarch Tully Coates, Sr. (Bob B…rrus) holds a dark secret from his two sons, Tully Jr. (Anson Mount) and Earl (Glenn Fitzgerald). Tully Jr. has relationship issues stemming from the absence of his mother when he was a child; he goes through women as often as he goes through work gloves. He has a physical relationship with April (Catherine Kellner), the local stripper, and fulfills his emotional needs by hanging out with Ella Smalley (Julianne Nicholson), the girl next door, who also has a close friendship with his brother Earl. As the family secrets are eventually brought to light, they threaten to tear the family apart.
Anson Mount’s performance fits the character of Tully Jr., with down-home charm and brooding sadness. He could be the long lost brother of Jim Caviezel to boot. Bob Burrus, who makes his only appearance in a movie to date, scores the highest out of the cast, bursting with sorrow and regret. Burrus embodies the time worn farm hand who has spent many days working in the sun, and is bogged with the weight of what he has held from his sons. His performance is reason enough to see the film. I am puzzled why we haven’t seen Burrus anywhere else since he is the best of many good things in the movie. Glenn Fitzgerald rounds out the Coates clan with a solid portrayal of Earl, a slightly challenged but gentle soul.
While the movie takes its time in setting the story in motion, there are several scenes that are sincere and touching. As a whole, some people may get bored with Tully due to the lack of speed, surprises, and twists, but the eventual emotional payoff rewards patient viewers.
For an independent film, no doubt shot on a minuscule budget, Tully surprisingly boasts a pretty good picture. Shot in the sun drenched mid-west, the Coates farm almost becomes another character in the movie. The picture has a tendency to flicker back and forth from clear to slightly blurry every few seconds, but it’s nothing too nerve wracking. While you may throw a fit if your version of Terminator 3 did this, here it is forgivable. The picture is grainy in spots, but then again this movie doesn’t have the benefit of other better looking major studio titles.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track does its job well. The surrounds add subtle ambience to the farm, and the front speakers handle music and other natural sounds well. The dialogue is always audible when characters are not mumbling or whispering. There is no noticeable crackling or hissing.
Trailer – The disc includes the film’s trailer, which shockingly looks better than the movie itself when it comes to picture quality.
Short Film: The Third Date – Also to be found is an odd short film called The Third Date, featuring a few noticeable faces from 24. Tony (Neil Jain) is the grandson of an old mob boss who is trying to propose to his Russian girlfriend, Katrina (Sarah Clarke), on Coney Island. Before he has the chance to pop the question, he runs into some of strange locals who either help and hinder his mission to propose. The short film contains acting on the level of a high school play, is sometimes downright bizarre, and definitely not for all tastes. It rounds out the disc’s limited extras.
If you like independent low-budget dramas or you’re just looking for a change from the usual Hollywood fare, you should definitely give Tully a look. The movie has excellent subtle performances to compliment the simple, but touching plot. Plus there is some excellent eye candy courtesy of the farmland scenery and Anson Mount. While the disc may leave you with questions if you are looking to learn more about the film, what is presented on it is done admirably.
Special Features List
- Short Film: The Third Date