Tully is the third collaboration between director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody and their second film to star Charlize Theron, who previously appeared in 2011’s Young Adult.

An intelligent, dark comedy, Tully tells the story of Marlo (Theron), an expectant mother to her third child. Her husband, Drew (Ron Livingston), is a non-presence, sometimes literally (travelling for business), often emotionally, and always sexually absent. Her son, Jonah, has unnamed behavioural problems and the film continues that disposition by avoiding verbalising that Marlo herself is suffering a severely under-diagnosed postpartum condition.

Enter Tully (Mackenzie Davis), a vibrant, charismatic 20-something night nurse, paid to take care of Marlo’s newborn through the night, which enables Marlo to get much-needed sleep to restore her emotional and physical reserves. Tully offers Marlo a way out of the daily grind and takes us on a surprising journey. The relationship between Marlo and Tully is captivating, and while we don’t always know where it’s taking us, we’re curious at every turn to see what lies around the corner.

On many occasions Marlo makes us laugh with her cynical analogies, reminding us that your 30s “come around the bend like a garbage truck at 5am”.

In spite of its deep and complex themes, the film empowers women through empathy shining a bright light on the silent, unspoken, insidious – and often invisible – dark side of motherhood. Tully is a film for both men and women, addressing the responsibilities and hardships of parenthood more broadly and the tolls these take on relationships which, while grounded in reality, will leave audiences optimistic.

Four stars