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Under the Radar - Cinema Review: Tallulah
by Zach Hollwedel, published on August 9, 2016
Ellen Page is Taullulah, a nomadic, family-less young woman whose recent breakup with her boyfriend compels her to his hometown of New York City in hopes of finding him. She winds up with more than she expected, however, when a rich, drunken woman mistakes Tallulah for a hotel staff person and thrusts her toddler into Tallulah’s arms. Concerned for the child’s safety, Tallulah absconds with the girl, turning to her ex’s mother, Margo (Allison Janney) for help with a lie about the child being Margo’s granddaughter.
Ellen Page is one of the most inherently likeable actors of her generation, and her amiability is on full display in Tallulah. It’s impossible not to root for her, even as she invariably digs herself deeper and deeper into trouble. Page’s chemistry with Janney is natural and wholly believable, even when writer-director Sian Heder’s script veers into the realm of predictability, which it does from time to time. Occasional hackneyed moments aside, Heder (a writer and co-producer of Orange is the New Black) is clearly adept at creating three-dimensional, relatable characters, even supporting ones like the Child Protective Services officer played by OITNB’s Uzo Aduba, and it is in the characters that Tallulah truly shines.
Tallulah marks Sian Heder’s feature directorial debut, and it’s indicative of a great many things to come. It is a perfect vehicle for Page, a touching story, and a brilliant showcase of what we can only hope is the beginning of Heder’s long feature film career.