Cerificate: 15

Running Time: 96 mins

Star Rating: 4/5

MOTHER doesn't know best - she is teetering on the precipice of a nervous breakdown in Jason Reitman's beautifully crafted and bittersweet portrait of modern parenthood. Poignant home truths are concealed behind trademark snappy dialogue and there is undeniable pleasure in unravelling the many layers to the flawed yet deeply sympathetic characters, who struggle to articulate their fears to each other. It is not until a 21st Century Mary Poppins materialises in the fractured family home and re-energises the exhausted matriarch with an endless supply of self-help aphorisms, that an emotional dam breaks and the words and tears cascade.

Charlize Theron delivers a heartbreaking performance as a mother of three who is desperate to dodge the postnatal depression she suffered after the birth of her "quirky" second child, but is reluctant to ask for help. Marlo (Theron) is poised to give birth and welcome a new life into the cluttered home she shares with her husband Drew (Ron Livingston), son Jonah (Asher Miles Fallica) and eight-year-old daughter Sarah (Lia Frankland). Her wealthy brother Craig (Mark Duplass) is concerned that Marlo won't cope and he offers to pay for a night nanny, who will take care of the baby after dark, allowing his sister to get a good night's sleep.

Initially, Marlo rejects his offer and soldiers on, but when the pressure becomes too much, Marlo calls the night nanny and 26-year-old Tully (Mackenzie Davis) immediately takes charge. Marlo forges a close bond with the enigmatic younger woman, and that friendship deepens when it becomes evident that Tully's expertise extends far beyond mewling newborns.