Directed and written by: Sian Heder
Stars: Ellen Page, Allison Janney, Tammy Blanchard.
Tallulah (Page) is a free-spirited wild child, living in the back of a van, coasting aimlessly through life. I haven’t seen Ellen Page in a leading role for a while and in this Netflix original film, she steals your heart – and a baby.
After an argument with her boyfriend (Evan Jonigkeit), she seeks out his estranged mother Margo (Janney) in desperate need of some help, and that’s when she meets a very careless single mum (Blanchard) in an apartment building. In a moment of madness, Lu snatches her one-year old baby and pretends the child is her own.
Netflix has become a very good platform for interesting indie films that would struggle to get an audience if they were released at the cinemas. While not entirely unique as this type of drama has been done many times, Tallulah is worth your time if you are ever scrolling through Netflix unsure of what to watch.
The main reason for this is down to the great performances by Page and Janney, who last teamed up in Juno (2007). The two actresses’ characters share a mother-daughter dynamic throughout the film, as they bond over the baby Margo believes is her granddaughter. Lu believes she has done the right thing. In her mind, she has rescued the baby from an unstable environment where the mother cares little for her child, who instead is more interested in winning back her husband.
What is particularly great about Tallulah, is how the characters are not treated as archetypes, (which is common in this type of film). Instead they are normal, flawed human beings. When films present viewers with bad mothers, they are usually drug addicts or in some other kind of trouble. In Tallulah, Carolyn is a mother who literally has no excuse for her carelessness, other than being a parent is “hard”. She just makes no attempt to try or even tidy up the living room so it’s suitable for her child. Lu believes the baby is better off without her real mother, but the film does not try to justify kidnapping.
The film strongly asserts that what Lu has done is wrong, but it is not necessarily right for the baby to be in the care of such an atrocious mother either. I believe the film interestingly highlights the opinion that sometimes there is no fixed and correct solution to anything.
Although Lu essentially becomes a criminal, she is still really likeable. Self-destructive, lonely and with a troubled past, the viewer is made to hope that she finds happiness and fulfilment somewhere. Page plays her with so much courage and vibrancy, that it is very easy to sympathise with her. Ellen Page consistently brings such a great and watchable presence to any film she is in.
Tallulah is ideal for anyone who enjoys topical films, and I recommend all the mothers out there to check this film out. Tullalah may find itself overlooked in favour of more widely accessibly films, but it’s still a very enjoyable drama, which has a fair bit to say about morals and who has the right to be a parent.
Quoted: “Your plan depended on other people. People suck, and they’ll disappoint you every time.”
Run Time: 111 min