Monday, July 25, 2016
Writer-director Sian Heder's Tallulah has an impressive set of genes on the matriarchal side. Header was a writer and story editor on Orange Is the New Black, and co-stars Ellen Page and Allison Janney play roles much like the ones they so memorably embodied in Juno—Page as a sardonic young woman grappling with unplanned motherhood and Janney as the no-nonsense mother figure who helps her. But Tallulah, a kind of neofeminist Lifetime movie, is high drama writ in black crayon, lacking either Orange Is the New Black's moral complexities or Juno's sweet-and-sour sass.
Relevant facts about each character are dutifully punched out, in earnest speeches or actions that are often wildly overdrawn. Every time Carolyn (Tammy Blanchard), an emotional black hole of a new mother, opens her mouth, she broadcasts her tragic lack of self-esteem and dependence on male approval. And when she invites the homeless Tallulah (Page) into her hotel room after finding her scrounging from a room service tray left in the hall, then insists that the gobsmacked young woman look after her one-year-old daughter, Maddie, while she goes out on a date, Carolyn comes off not as a plausibly unfit mother but a plot point highlighted in neon.
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