Tallulah (2016)


Sian Heder directs Ellen Page, Allison Janney and Tammy Blanchard in this drama about a homeless girl who takes a stranger’s baby into her own care while waiting for her absent boyfriend at his estranged upper-class mother’s apartment. 

Dealing with unconventional, often toxic parenting from three unlikely matriarchs, Tallulah is an acting showcase for three very different performers. Page goes grungy, the irresponsible free spirit who takes on more than she can chew when she kidnaps a baby and cons her way into Janney’s apartment with it. Janney, putting in the best shift (unsurprisingly), is the tightly wound loner, awkwardly navigating the outside world and these new chaos bringing intruders following a devastating divorce. Blanchard gets shorter shrift as the drunken shrew who abandons her unwanted baby to go have an affair, treating cops like they are servants and self-pitying herself into an almost clownish caricature from the off. It is all very watchable but I’m not sure the three very extreme characters really have much to say to the viewer, more as they exist to flint sparks off each other, to no great fire. The direction includes surprising moments of fantasy whimsy and bravely never outstretches its hand for obvious grandstanding. Yet it all ties up with little resolution… you do have a little more sympathy for all three leads, even Blanchard’s grotesque, yet very little idea of the consequences.


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