Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ellen Page, Allison Janney, Tammy Blanchard, Evan Jonigkeit, Felix Solis, David Zayas, Uzo Aduba, Fredric Lehne, Liliana Ellis, Evangeline Ellis, John Benjamin Hickey, Zachary Quinto, Maddie Corman
Written by: Sian Heder
Directed by: Sian Heder
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 111
Date: 07/29/2016

Tallulah (2016)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Child Life

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This Netflix original film falls into the old "weepie/women's picture" category, but it stays stubbornly rooted in characters and moments. It never goes over the top into goopy sentimentality, and if any tears are produced, they are earned. Ellen Page stars in a very strong performance as the title character, a crafty homeless waif living in the back of a truck with her boyfriend, Nico (Evan Jonigkeit). They scrounge for food or steal it, and they have been happy, until Nico decides to leave. Tallulah sneaks into a hotel to pick at the food left in the hallway, and is mistaken for a hotel babysitter by the rich, pathetic Carolyn (Tammy Blanchard).

Carolyn has come to New York to have an affair, but has brought her young daughter Madison along, with no idea how to care for her. Tallulah decides to steal the child, and, with nowhere else to go, turns to Nico's uptight mom, Margo (a great Allison Janney), claiming that the child is her granddaughter. Tallulah (2016) is the feature directing debut of Sian Heder, who based it on a short film and also writes for Orange Is the New Black. It's an assured work, allowing for moments of pure character development and lovely flights of fancy. Zachary Quinto of Star Trek appears in a small role as the new boyfriend of Margo's ex-husband.

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