Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Reel Snippet – Tallulah


Synopsis: Tallulah (Ellen Page) is a young adult who lives in her van and does what she needs to in order to survive. While in a hotel scrounging discarded room service scraps to eat, a drunken philanderer named Carolyn (Tammy Blanchard) mistakes her for the help and hires her to watch her baby Madison (Evangeline and Liliana Ellis). Tallulah is appalled at the ineptitude, irresponsibility, and contempt with which Carolyn raises her child, so in a moment of panic she absconds with the baby while Carolyn is passed out drunk. She goes to Margo (Allison Janney), whose son Nico (Evan Jonigkeit) is Tallulah’s ex-boyfriend, and claims that the child is hers and Nico’s. But Margo has her own baggage to deal with as she’s in such desperate denial over her impending divorce that she hasn’t signed her papers in three years. On top of that, Margo’s neat and orderly mindset clashes with Tallulah’s impulsiveness and lack of social graces from living alone for so long. It’s The Odd Couple meets Gone Baby Gone as Tallulah grows attached to the baby, bonds with her not-quite-mother-in-law, and tries to avoid being outed as a child abductor.

Review: Tallulah is a rare sort of movie nowadays: an entirely character driven slice of life. Sure, we got a unique taste of it in Boyhood, but this one has a more structured narrative and all of the conflict comes from the characters’ personalities bouncing off one another. Nico leaves Tallulah because she harshly rejects his idea of settling down, getting married, and getting jobs. In turn, Tallulah’s decision to take Madison is born out of panic when Carolyn passes out drunk and the baby cries when Tallulah, probably the only human to ever show her affection, is about to leave. Each character is a unique instrument in this narrative symphony that is both discordant and beautiful.

None of these characters are perfect and that’s what makes them more likable and relatable. Tallulah is dishonest and self-serving. Margo is uptight and struggling with her own homophobia. Nico left home before the movie begins and leaves Tallulah during it, both without even saying goodbye. Carolyn is a terrible parent who lets her daughter play with anything in reach (even full beer bottles) and just expects her to understand how to control her bathroom urges without any training. Yet in spite of this, they can come off as sympathetic characters (I’m on the fence about Carolyn) and a lot of this is due to the performances and the masterful direction. On top of that, the movie concludes on an ambiguous note that also manages to leave a dash of optimism. I don’t remember the last time a movie had the brass to go this route, but you’ll have to see the movie yourself to know what I’m talking about. Suffice to say, I recommend this movie to everyone, even if it’s just to see what you think. It’s a Netflix original, so it won’t cost a penny to see.

Unless you don’t have Netflix, in which case it will cost a pretty penny. You could always torrent it, but I would never encourage you to break the law…

Fun Tidbit: Of all the things to describe this movie, one I would not have guessed was “autobiographical.” Don’t worry, there weren’t any stolen babies, but director Sian Heder worked as a babysitter in many high end hotels in LA and met some truly appalling mothers. One was so bad that she considered running away with the child. She didn’t, but she tried to imagine the kind of person that would and thus, the seeds for Tallulah were planted.

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