by Joe Dziemianowicz, published on Thursday, July 28, 2016 - 12:52 PM|
No, this is not a Tallulah Bankhead bio.
“Tallulah” is a sensitive and stirring look at motherhood that reunites “Juno” co-stars Ellen Page and Allison Janney.
For sublime acting, this Netflix feature hits the mother lode. For a script that always holds water, not so much.
Drifter and small-scale grifter Tallulah (Page, who’s at her most natural and moving) is content living out of her van with her boyfriend Nico (Evan Jonigkeit).
But when he gets sick of the road, he unceremoniously splits and heads to New York.
With no one and nothing to fall back on, Lu follows him there and meets Carolyn (Tammy Blanchard, who is also wonderful), a married wack job. Tallulah agrees to watch the stranger’s one-year-old daughter Madison so the horny drunk can hook up with some guy.
Initially it’s just about easy money. But Carolyn’s shocking negligence — like the open window where the baby is playing — leads Lu to a reckless choice. She leaves with Maddy.
Lu lands at the home of Nico’s uptight mom Margo (Janney, in a fierce and funny performance), who’s also adrift since her marriage died. Tallulah lies that it’s Nico’s daughter. But the ruse can’t last as a child-protective agent (Uzo Aduba) works with Carolyn to get her child back.
It’s a consistently compelling story. But the script by “Orange is the New Black” writer Sian Heder, who does double duty as director, suffers from contrivances and chance encounters. Heder compensates with rich characters who slowly fully reveal themselves. One thing they have in common: they’re not perfect.
And that’s why Bankhead has a cameo — actually one of her pithy quotes. “If I had to live my life again,” the actress once said, “I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner.”
While the women of “Tallulah” blunder their way through life, the actors playing them don’t miss a step.
Rating: 3,5 ouf of 5