Warning: This movie review contains spoilers.
Set in the concrete jungle of New York City, Tallulah explains what it means to feel (or not feel) attached to a permanent home, family and others. Going from town to town, Tallulah travels with her boyfriend in her van that’s become her mobile home. Once her boyfriend says that he loves her but wants to go back home and see his mom, Tallulah (played by Ellen Page) panics and distances herself. Now left alone, she decides to go back to New York to hustle for food scraps and any money she can get. Caught in a predicament with an irresponsible mother, Tallulah is put in the care of the woman’s baby which sets the stage for a thrilling and self-fulfilling adventure.
From family ties to living in a place that doesn’t feel yours, Tallulah explores the different perspectives of what it means to be tied down to this earth. Analyzing our attachment to society, others and objects makes us question our purpose in life. Since death is a fate that can’t be altered or prevented, then what’s the point? What’s the point of any of this?
The simplistic visualization that the film presents is done in a way that layers attachment, relationships and what it means to be a part of this planet, beautifully and metaphorically. There are two separate instances where Tallulah and Margo (played by Allison Janney) are imagining what it feels like being pulled from the earth. Though we see each getting pulled off the ground, Tallulah and Margo display two distinct and different emotions. Tallulah’s yearning to feel attached to someone and something is what she wants. Her fears of always having to be on the run and not getting close to people are bigger than she thought. Instead of running, she craves belonging and a sense of home which she hasn’t felt. Margo showcases a different emotion; one that encompasses freeing and the willingness to let go.
Margo is an author whose son ran away and is dealing with an emotionally draining divorce. Finding out that her ex-husband is gay, she sulks in his old apartment filled with denial, despair and grief. Emotionally tied to that same apartment that’s filled with all of his belongings, she deserves a fresh, new start. This sort of imaginative approach to attachment and how the meaning varies for each person was not only done well artistically but it was also properly executed in the thematic sense.
The film becomes a sort of thriller towards the end with Tallulah finding herself in the middle of a kidnapping and for the first time in a long time gets put in the center of everyone’s radar. Used to hiding from the rest of the world in her van that’s filled with her belongings, she comes face-to-face with the New York police department, a psychotic mother and her fears of becoming detached, yet again. This time, she becomes detached from the child she quickly became fond of. Despite the drama, she can’t let go of the baby. Why? For the first time in a long time she actually feels like she has a family, a place where she belongs.
Collectively, the performance of the cast was strong but the performances of Ellen Page and Allison Janney are what steal the show. The chemistry between the two worked remarkably well with a built-in rapport. Tallulah is easily one of the underdog films of the year and was entertaining from beginning to end.