Cert 15 96mins Stars 5

Charlize Theron changes gear from the Fast and Furious franchise to give a first class performance in this wryly funny and gaspingly honest comedy drama.

Only last year the Oscar winner was an impressively ripped action star, now she’s believably hefty, wrinkled and worn.

She brings warmth and humour to the married forty-something, Marlo, who’s suffering soul-sapping sleep deprivation and barely coping with the her newborn, third child.

Marlo watches TV reality shows and scoffs pizza in exhausted surrender to the pressure of conforming to the impossible standards of other, seemingly perfect parents. Her husband returns from work each night and collapses each night in front of the telly.

Marlo’s wealthy older brother has hires them a night nanny, to help with the midnight feeds.

Played by Mackenzie Davis, Tully is an eager-to-please 26 year old, with a toned physique and model looks. And slowly the boundaries between employee, family and friend are blurred.

It’s directed with  sympathy by Jason Reitman and written with commendable insight by Diablo Cody. They previously teamed up for 2007’s teen pregnancy drama, Juno, and 2011’s Young adult, which also starred Theron. This is equally polished and my favourite of the three.

Cody’s script is astonishingly good at portraying the noise, frustration and physical indignities of child rearing, while people tell you how precious and fleeting those early moments are.

Painfully accurate in its depiction of domestic distress, I was suffering Vietnam War-like flashbacks to the terrible times of my son’s first years.

And then Cody delivers a perfectly flighted narrative curve ball which bowls us over with its emotional power.

But this isn’t a depressing experience, more a therapeutic hymn to virtues of sacrifice, compromise and steadfastness.

If a newborn has made you feel afraid, desperate and broken, this film will help put you back together. By the end I was crying like a baby. 


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