Juno meets Bad Moms.
Ellen Page, the title character, is content with her waif-like lifestyle in a rusty old van. Her boyfriend longs for a more settled lifestyle so she tells him to get lost. Whilst pretending to be hotel staff, Tallulah finds herself being roped into babysitting the toddler of the Beverly Hills housewife, Carolyn (Tammy Blanchard), for the promise of lots of cash. Tallulah observes that Carolyn is far from being a good mother, so essentially steals the baby and approaches the oblivious Margo (Alison Janney) for help. Margo is Tallulah’s ex-boyfriend’s mother, and the two of them must find a way to live together until they find a solution.
There’s something about Netflix movies that makes them different from others. Because it’s exclusively Netflix, there’s a comfortable feel and a snug expectation surrounding Tallulah. Kind of similar to if you have been chatting to someone online, developed a close relationship and then finally decided to meet in person. But does Tallulah live up to that expectation?
The first fifteen minutes of the movie I was a little unsure. We have a girlfriend and a boyfriend living in a van, they both have different dreams, and there’s a questionable moment where Tallulah seems like she is in a dream and almost floats away. That was the point where I wondered if the movie was going to be what I expected; firmly connected to harsh reality or blurring the lines of secularity? But then as the story progressed, I really did become immersed in the characters and their dilemmas. The characters are most definitely the strongest element of Sian Heder’s movie. I enjoy getting an intimate front-row seat into the lives of characters that seem to be one way on the surface, but completely different if you peel back the layers, and there’s a lot of this going on in Tallulah. Alison Janney’s character really is a memorable one and I became quite emotionally attached to her. Each person in this movie has their own story, their own hopes, their own dreams and their own obstacles that are slowly yet surely revealed to us like a drip-drip-drip of emotional nourishment through a tube in our arm.
The core of the story is motherhood. Ellen Page’s Tallulah is finding her way as a temporary parent but can’t seem to work out what is right and what is wrong. She does want to do the right thing, and that’s what makes her likable. Alison Janney’s Margot is living in the drab limbo of a divorce and a son she hasn’t seen in two years, and her only friend, a tortoise, just died. Tammy Blanchard’s Caroyln is the neglected wife of a rich man, emotionally damaged and attention seeking, she’s heartbreakingly disastrous and clearly unfit to be a mother. All together, these three women make for an ensemble that brings some seriously gripping dimensions and emotions to the table.
Alison Janney stole the show for me here. She executes a fantastic performance of a woman who’s operating within a sturdy structure of stability, but that structure threatens to crack or faulter, and it’s quite emotional to see when it finally does. Ellen Page does what she does best; a faultless performance, and Tammy Blanchard creates some really compassion-inducing moments as someone you just feel sorry for.
With a more concrete foothold in bleak reality, this movie could be something that packs more of a punch. But to answer the question we started with – does Tallulah live up to the snug expectations I had as a Netflix viewer? Yes I think it does. It’s a movie that made me smile, surprised me, made me laugh and made me sad. A cosy emotional journey from start to finish, nothing more and nothing less.