“Tallulah:” Loyalty even when Life Pricks the Fingers

by Kayna Kemp Stout

Tallulah is a contemporary drama about the increasingly stark conflicts between parents and adult children, spouses, and perhaps more arrestive, the battle to hang on and not let go of life’s whatfor. The film stars Ellen Page, Allison Janney, and Tammy Blanchard. Sian Heder directs. It was a hit at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Tallulah is a cynical young woman. She’s adrift and homeless, but uses her beat up van as her domicile. She’s paired up with an equally adrift young man who hasn’t been home for two years. He wants to live a more traditional life and return to NYC where the two of them can get jobs and even get married. Tallula freaks out at the thought of settling down and tells the guy to just leave if he can’t deal with her unconventional way of living.

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He departs while she sleeps; she then realizes and regrets that she has pushed him away. She shows up at the door of his mother’s apartment in Manhattan. The mother wants nothing to do with her. Tallulah uses her conning skills to gain entry into a posh hotel room, where she discovers a distressed socialite overwhelmed with caring for her baby. Tallulah who has no child caring skills is enlisted by the woman to babysit. Tallulah feels a connection with the helpless child.

Tallulah feels a connection with the helpless child. Despite her tough could-care-less attitude, she finds a soft spot for the innocent baby she is caring for. When the socialite returns inebriated and passes out on the bed, Tallulah takes matters into her own hands. Ever the con artist, she swipes a stroller and returns to the apartment and claims the baby as her own with her former boyfriend. This time the mother of her ex lets her enter under the pretense that she has a grandchild.

tallulah_unit_01017rThe three begin to bond. The vulnerabilities of the two women begin to be exposed as they together take care of the baby. They also forge a bond to each other. Tallulah has not had a mother figure in her life since being a small child herself. Her tough exterior is really covering up a broken heart and a painful past. Her ex’s mother is also suffering a broken heart from a recent divorce and her son’s disappearance. It’s beautiful to watch the developing love between the women and the child and to each other. The story line is in full swing and feels like a NYC subway speeding toward a derailment.

As TV news reports and newspaper photos begin to appear about the stolen child, Tallulah’s future and freedom begin to look bleak. The inevitable day comes when the hoax is over, but Tallulah has learned some deep lessons about what it really means to love someone besides one’s self. There is hope for redemption as Talula is handcuffed. This film explores the many facets of relationships. It looks at what true love and loyalty really mean not when things are rosy, but when the thorns prick the fingers. There are lessons about changing oneself, forgiveness, and progression woven throughout the story.

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