• by Wes Singleton

Tully, B+

Rated R, 96 minutes

Jason Reitman's "Tully" is one of the year's sharpest and funniest films, with a strong performance from Oscar-winner Charlize Theron in the lead role as the harried mother of three who really, really needs a break. Occasionally uneven, its twist ending will be divisive to some, but it's still a well-observed, poignant look at aging and motherhood.

Marlo (Theron), a mother of three, is gifted a night nanny by her brother (Mark Duplass). Hesitant to the extravagance at first, Marlo comes to form a unique bond with the thoughtful, surprising, and sometimes challenging young nanny named Tully (Mackenzie Davis of "Blade Runner 2049").

The well-acted, touching "Tully" is one of Theron's strongest roles in years, and it's a brave, transformative turn as the middle-aged mother who too often becomes engulfed in her own fantasies. It marks the return of Reitman to good form after "Juno" and "Up in the Air" and it also marks another collaboration with Oscar-winner Diablo Cody from "Juno," and it's Cody's strongest material since "Juno."

Theron and Davis have strong chemistry here as the struggling mother and the young "night nanny" who makes everything seem so effortless. Their conversations about love, life, and family are the highlight of the film, providing some insightful observances about life and parenthood after 40. "Tully" occasionally plays to some stereotypes (the seemingly disconnected, video-game playing Dad, played with appeal by "Office Space's" Ron Livingston), and Reitman and Cody craft such a solid 2/3 of the film, that its twist ending seems a little unnecessary.

Speaking of which, I won't provide any spoilers except to say that we all tend to vicariously live through our younger selves. We all want to be perfect, but never quite achieve the perfection we're looking for. With "Tully" not everything is as it seems, but it's still keenly observed. Add this one to your must-see list, and in an ideal world, it'd be great to see Theron Oscar-nominated again for this role.

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