4/5 – This movie could not have worked without the remarkable talents of Ellen Page and Allison Jenny. I’m sure if it takes off or becomes one of those cult things – which I can’t say if it will or won’t – they will do something somewhere talking about how others were considered for the roles of Tallulah (or Lu) and Margo they couldn’t possibly have found two other actors to make this movie what it turned out to be. I don’t know if this was written for Ellen Page and Allison Jenny but I cannot imagine any other actors in these roles. This was a very good drama about very serious subject of kidnapping, abandonment, excepting changes in life and mostly broken people trying not to be broken. These types of movies are a little hard to pull off in a world of special effects spectacles but this is a simple honest and dramatic movie where the characters are flawed, not always perfect and needs to inform the action through mostly dialogue which is something usually reserve for stage plays. Tallulah pulls this off and that’s why it’s worth your Netflix and Chill time.
I have a bias, and I’m going to be honest about it. I have a huge schoolboy crush on Ellen Page I like her as a character actor, I like her in any comedy or drama – I will watch anything she’s in. Her disaffected snarky but wiser then her years attitude and forever young look is simply a winner. Ellen Page is not only adorable to the point of being a human plushy, she’s just one of those actresses that makes everything she’s in that more interesting because she’s in it. (Watch her in Super, and tell me I’m wrong.) That’s a talent few actors can achieve. I’m a bit of a fan with caveats of the Singer X-Men movies and had they given Ellen Page more of an actual speaking part (I mean more than egging “I’m the Juggernaut, Beach!” on) she would have stolen the damn movie. My thing for cute is a factor as well. Put cute in front of me and your movie or TV show will get 20 automatic points just for that. I’m seriously going to have to make Ellen Page a feature in my “Cute” category. So now that we’re past that. . .
Once Upon a Juno
I actually took notice of Ellen Page with the criminally underappreciated Hard Candy. If you have not seen Hard Candy you’re dong yourself a disservice. In Hard Candy Ellen plays a teenage out for revenge, but it’s not as simple or clear cut as you think. Of course the world fell in love with Miss Page when the Indy cult blockbuster Juno which sent her career into orbit around the galaxy. (That’s not an exaggeration, Juno was a seven million dollar made movie that went on to earn 143 million domestically. The movie, its director and Ellen Page were nominated for Oscars that year.) Of course Ellen Page is just an adored and recognizable as Jennifer Lawrence and deserves to be. She’s just a damn good actress who can hold her own against any veteran she’s put with.
Speaking of Juno, Allison Jenny was Ellen Page’s co-star in that movie. In many ways they played pretty much the same type of characters in Tallulah – but where Juno was about family issues, Tallulah is about broken people trying to live with their broken traits. Tallulah is homeless because she doesn’t see a better way, Nick is lost because he can help or change his mother, Margo is in denial and despair because her life was suddenly changed and she had no power over it and Carolyn is desperate to remain young and relevant to keep her husband’s approval. At the center of them all, a baby who is the only unbroken human being in the movie. This is why Tallulah works. I’m not forgetting the other actors around them but they are the show stealers in this little drama. Tammy Blanchard’s role as Carolyn, the socialite mother of the kidnapped baby could have been a very hard to like character, but she actually pulled off giving the woman more sympathy and humanity then I expected. Nick is a bit of a prop but an important one. He connects Tallulah with Margo and it’s because of him their relationship becomes what it is by the end of the movie,
Simple Complicated Lives
If you’ve missed the commercial on TV or YouTube, Tallulah is a homeless girl who is mistaken for a housekeeper by a drunken socialite and ends up stealing the socialite’s baby and pretending it belongs to her and her estranged boyfriend in order to seek shelter with her boyfriend’s mother Margo. Margo is trying to get over her husband leaving her for another man and her son just vanishing a few years earlier. On the surface you could classify Talluulah as a “Magic Pixie Dream Girl” character and I’d say that on the surface it might be a fair assessment. Only it’s Tallulah who needs something to ground her in life and it’s her who changes within the narrative. The movie becomes a countdown clock story of the baby’s mother search for her child, a bonding story between Tallulah and Margo and a the minutes ticking until Tallulah is eventually caught.
Nothing in that description is a spoiler, as the commercial did that job for me. This is not about mystery or what’s going to happen, it’s about characters bonding and rebuilding their broken lives the best way they know how. The character of people broken, but not by their choices but by how life throws them left curves despite ofor because of their choices. The only character who is not a victim in this story is the baby. I know, metaphors all around, but it work on many levels. The performances are sharp and honest and you end up rooting for the two characters you should be hating, Tallulah and Carolyn. There is a scene when Carolyn is in Margo’s kitchen that is such a really good moment between the two characters, a moment the movie leads up to without hitting you over the head about it. There are more than a few moments like this in the movie which is another reason it becomes a must see.
Showing Not Telling
A mistake many movies like this do is always telling before or never showing. When you have what is basically a drama with a few humorous elements thrown in there is a lot of dialogue, so the directors and actors have to show through that dialogue. Every frame of the move is an illustration of how broken all these people are. From Margo trying to hold on to what her life used to be before her husband left her, to Tallulah trying to maintain the illusion of being the cool girl in a van while her life is shit, to Carolyn trying to hold on to her youth because she thinks it’s the only thing that make her relevant. This was directed by Sian Heder who is famous for being one of the writers on Orange is the New Black, and if this is an example of what she can do I ‘m totally on board to see more. (Hey Netflix, you found a director for Jessica Jones Season Two, make that happen.) Because Sian Heder tells this story by showing us what makes each character tick through what they say and their human actions.
Don’t go into this thinking it’s some kind of “chick flick.” It’s a really good movie on every level which I enjoyed thoroughly. The acting is great, the story is interesting and the resolution is not some flakey hipster dream fever. Tallulah ends exactly as it should have ended. I highly recommend you give this movie a watch, you won’t be disa0ppoited.