Tallulah (USA 2015)

Director:

Sian Heder

Writer:

Sian Heder

 

Producer:

Russell Levine, Heather Rae, Todd Traina,

 

Chris Columbus, Eleanor Columbus

 

Cast:

 

Ellen Page

Tallulah

Allison Janney

Margo

Evan Jonigkeit

Nico

Jason Tottenham

Michael

Zachary Quinto

 

Uzo Aduba

 

David Zayas

 

John Benjamin Hickey

Stephen

Tammy Blanchard

Carolyn

 

(Complete Cast & Crew)

Tallulah

Genre:

Drama / Comedy

Runtime:

111 minutes

Language:

English

Budget:

-

Filming dates:

10th June - 16th July 2015

Filming locations:

New York City and North Hollywood, California, USA

Rating:

-

World premiere:

23rd January 2016 (Sundance Film Festival)

Company / Studio:

Route One Entertainment, Ocean Blue Entertainment

Official website:

-

IMDb website:

www.imdb.com/title/tt1639084/

DVD premiere:

-


Downloads:

 

English Production Notes (Netflix, USA)

(PDF Document, 4.18 MB)

Download


Synopsis:

Young vagabond Lu lives in a van and is fiercely independent in her hand-to-mouth existence. This daily struggle has become tiresome for her privileged boyfriend, Nico, who unceremoniously leaves her one night. When a chance encounter incites her to impulsively “rescue” a baby from a negligent mother, Lu, at a loss for what to do, turns to the only responsible adult she knows: Nico’s unsmiling academic mother, Margo, who believes she’s the child’s grandmother. Thrown together despite differences in class and worldview, Margo and Lu make a lovable, if tense, odd couple. The two are bound to each other as they tentatively form a haphazard family, though Margo has no idea that the police are hot on Lu’s trail for absconding with a child.

In the winsome lead performances, Ellen Page plays the scrappy, free-spirited Lu while Allison Janney’s Margo is equal parts measured and bemused as their characters wrestle, and often clash, over responsibility, motherhood, and their uncertain futures. Writer/director Sian Heder combines warmth, madcap humor, and a deep understanding of human nature in this delightful dramatic comedy about the serendipitous unpredictability of life.

Facts

  • director and writer Sian Heder got the idea for the film when she was working as a nanny when she first moved to Los Angeles
  • Netflix acquired the worldwide streaming rights for the film for 5 million US-Dollar before the actual world premiere at Sundance

Awards

  • “New Voices in Screenwriting” Award (Sian Heder, Screenwriters Tribute, Nantucket Film Festival, 25th June 2016)

Press comments:

  • "Tallulah admirably challenges received wisdom about maternal feelings. It also takes gutsy risks with potentially dislikable main characters, all of whom are women, played with bravura skill by the three leads. There's so much to root for here it’s painful to concede there's some hideously on-the-nose, spell-out-the-motivation-in-capital-letters writing that lowers the tone. However, that obviousness won’t hurt its crossover potential one jot, and for a low-budget indie debut, this has bags of Juno-style commercial potential." [...] Page and Janney have a pleasant, relaxed rapport with each other and are likeable enough presences to hang out with, but a lot of the business around their characters feels like padding to keep the two highest-profile actors busy" — Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter
     
  • "Ellen Page lands her best starring vehicle since "Juno" in "Tallulah", a very different story of a young woman coming to terms with the idea of being a mother. The feature-length scripting-directing debut of "Orange Is the New Black" staff writer Sian Heder offers juicy roles not only to Page but also to Allison Janney and Tammy Blanchard, in a strong showcase of female talent both behind and in front of the camera. [...] Page is simply superb in a complex role that perfectly plays to her gift for balancing deadpan comedy with surprisingly deep emotional reserves." — Geoff Berkshire, Associate Editor, Variety
     
  • "It takes a village to raise a child, especially in Tallulah, an often funny and moving drama about two disparate characters: a drifter who ends up becoming the unlikely caretaker of a one-year-old child; and the middle-aged soon-to-be-divorcée she tricks into thinking is its grandmother. In her first feature, writer-director Siân Heder sometimes overdoes the gentle dramatic ironies and cutesy, feel-good tone, but Tallulah has much to say about the ways that society judges women: as mothers, as wives, as lovers. Helped enormously by deeply-felt performances from Ellen Page and Allison Janney, this film mostly overcomes its unevenness by finding rich pockets of emotion and insight." — Tim Grierson, Senior US Critic, ScreenDaily
     
  • “Comic drama "Tallulah" offers robust starring roles for Ellen Page and Allison Janney, reuniting for a far less quirky, but well-made follow-up to "Juno". Heder oversees the production with a sure sense of guidance, and provides a framework for Page, Janney, and the rest of the cast to do excellent work. [...] Heder's direction shines, shaping the film around the cast as each woman plays out their own specific nuances of loss and insecurity, and, occasionally, optimism. "Tallulah" is an impressive feature debut, and a welcome showcase for the talents of Page, Janney, and Blanchard." [B+] — Russ Fischer, The Playlist
     
  • "The plot of Tallulah gets a bit unwieldy as it unfolds. But the film features such fine performances from Allison Janney, Ellen Page, and a stunning Tammy Blanchard that any narrative messiness is easily excused. Heder has written three complex, richly realized characters for her lead actresses, who create a compelling and poignant triptych of women tangled, thwarted, and ultimately uplifted by the bonds and responsibilities of family and motherhood." — Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair
     
  • "Writer-director Sian Heder's sharp, observant script introduces three wholly original female characters, all grappling in different ways with the constraints of motherhood. Those characters are well served by Page, Janney and Blanchard, who find depths of emotion in what otherwise could have been thin stereotypes. The emotional triple-punch they deliver is genuine and gut-wrenching." (3.5 ouf 4) — Sean P. Means, The Salt Lake Tribune
     
  • "The story has the makings of a Lifetime movie; what grounds it are the terrific performances and Heder's rich direction and screenplay. [...] As Tallulah’s odd couple, Page and Janney have a strong rapport that softens as the women come to understand one another. Page is such an appealing presence that she makes Page's self-destructive tendencies easy to stomach. Janney, playing a woman unsure of how she managed to lose both of the men in her life, lends a defeated quality to Margo that is heart-rending. Together, they make a sad sort of magic." (4 out of 5) — Nigel M Smith, The Guardian
     
  • "The main problem with the movie is that Tallulah, who is meant to be roguishly charming, is instead irritating — a lying, thieving, tiresome, unwashed hippie moocher even before she turns kidnapper. [...] The movie is interminable — scene after scene after scene returns to check in on the Blanchard character’s screamy drunken hysteria — and yet leaves a subplot hanging and ends without much resolution, instead opting for a second iteration of a hokey fantasy scene." — Kyle Smith, New York Post
     
  • "Page and Janney display a considerable amount of chemistry, not to mention a decent amount of laughs mostly derived from the battle between Lu’s blunt honesty and Margot’s tense, socially-aware pretensions." [...] When forced to come to a conclusion, the film’s plotting falters thanks to overly convenient timing and a complete transformation into thriller mode. There’s honesty here and a swath of well-written, well-developed female characters, but not enough to justify laughing with a kidnapper." [C] — Dan Mecca, The Film Stage
     
  • "Tallulah is a funny and poignant look at how complicated motherhood and family can be [...] This directorial debut from Sian Heder was originally based on Heder’s 2006 short Mother. As her debut, it’s a solid effort. Sometimes its imagery and themes get a little heavy-handed, particularly when it comes to a gravity-defying scene at the end that is equal parts cheesy and cringe worthy way. Still, it’s sweet to see how Lu, Margo, and baby Maddy/Maggie help each other open up, even if it does so in a predictable, albeit engaging way." [B+] — Katie Anaya, College Movie Review
     
  • "Tallulah and Margo wonder about gravity, and if it weren't there would they let themselves float away or hold on for dear life. Then, of course, we get a lame fantasy sequence in which that actually happens because the film's message, such as it is, really needs to be made as obvious as possible. Page and Janney deserve better than what Tallulah ultimately gives them to work with. While there are no easy answers when it comes to parenting, and this film doesn't offer any, Tallulah doesn't bother asking believable questions, either." — Travis Hopson, Examiner.com
     
  • "The casting of Janney and Page can be a tiny bit loaded, considering that the two were so strong in previous Ellen Page pregnancy hit, "Juno." [...] Individually, they have great moments too—Janney has a truly emotional bit with a turtle, and throughout, Page captures a restless sense of having no one and nothing. [...] In its greatest success, it is able to translate—or feels like it, at least to this reviewer—the incomparable, intangible stresses of sacrifice within motherhood through filmmaking." — Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
     
  • "The story leans on the side of incredulousness and there are a few moments that seemed a little too overly convenient for me, but all of that can be forgiven because Page and Janney are absolutely amazing in this film. [...] Tallulah is that kind of rare film: a straightforward dramatic storyline with the well-placed laughs that also unexpectedly gets under your skin. Because you can’t help but wonder: would you take someone else’s baby if you thought you could do better?" [A-] — Siân Melton, Cinefilles
     
  • "Ellen Page and Allison Janney trade insults and life advice in Sian Heder's solid feature debut, which trades in sharp humour and dreamy imagery [...] Heder neatly plays up the two women's differences, and the best scenes see Page and Janney rubbing each other up the wrong way. Nicely observed and with some great performances, it's already got distribution, so you won't have to wait long to see it." — Josh Winning, GamesRadar
     
  • "An unflinching look at motherhood and personal responsibility, Heder’s picture presents us with no clear villains or heroes, but instead gives us an utterly captivating, morally ambiguous story. By allowing us to see the shades of grey inherent in the human experience, Heder elicits our empathy and compassion for all her characters, as they, as we so often do, struggle to do what they feel is right." [An absolute must-see] — Carrie Kahn, Spinning Platters
     
  • "Page's feral performance as a dumpster-diving loudmouth anchors Sian Heder's pragmatic comedy about women trying, and failing, to be maternal." — Amy Nicholson, Village Voice
     
  • "Ellen Page at her most Ellen Page, and it is glorious. The last movie that was this level of Ellen Page was Juno [...] The movie is about motherhood, doing the right thing, what it means to be a good person, deceit, and responsibility. All in all, it was just super good with really strong performances and an amazing first directorial turn from Sian Heder. And it’s not just Page and Janney who really sell the movie. The story of the mother whose child is stolen is also fascinating as performed by Tammy Blanchard, filled with a complexity that really elevates the movie into something special. It’s these three riveting and complex female performances really make it. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ellen Page has another Oscar nomination next year, that’s how strong this movie is." (4 out of 4) — Josh Greenberg, Josh The Blog
     
  • "The beauty of Tallulah is that it doesn’t oversimplify women’s reasoning. It sadly stalls dramatically by reiterating the same meanings and actions, but acknowledges that women torn are in varied directions as caregivers, partners, and with their careers. [...] Ellen Page’s reliably witty deliveries are pleasing, and there’s no doubt that she effortlessly emotes Lu’s aimless disposition. [...] Heder’s storytelling comes from a refined perspective that views women as many things and knows that the wills of others disrupt even the best laid plans. All three women exist as islands, overly protective of themselves because of the mental gamut they’ve been put through by others. Tallulah’s plot meanders a bit too much, but makes honorable and equitable statements on how women strive to make their way forward despite their failures and the inadequacy of others." — Lane Scarberry, PopOptiq
     
  • "The three lead performances are uniformly excellent, but Blanchard delivers the standout. The plucky charm of Page’s previous roles translates well into Lu’s impecunious nomad, shunning the care of others until she is ill-equipped to care for someone herself. Similarly, a dream sequence that both Lu and Margo experience feels like a strange atonal choice on Heder’s part, out of step with the rest of her film. But Tallulah is a confident, heartfelt debut that explores the roles and choices of real women, even if those choices are unlikely ones. [...] Similarly, a dream sequence that both Lu and Margo experience feels like a strange atonal choice on Heder’s part, out of step with the rest of her film. But Tallulah is a confident, heartfelt debut that explores the roles and choices of real women, even if those choices are unlikely ones." (7 out of 10) — Josh Franks, BadCantina
     
  • "Tallulah is a light-hearted, though also quite deep comedy-drama that involves from the off. There are three truly superb performances – Ellen Page secures her best role since her wonderful turn in Juno, a character who one looks upon both shamefully and with empathy. It’s a superb performance and she’s a joy to watch in every scene, as is the reliable Alison Janney, a character who actually shares a lot with Page’s – just managing to keep everything together at a time when she stands to lose everything. Then there’s Tammy Blanchard’s Carolyn, a character also struggling with her own demons and again a performance worthy of mention from her introduction as the slightly-slutty, confident, provided for ‘real housewife’ of Beverly Hills, to the tormented should we see during the film’s closing scenes. A highlight in the all three actresses’ already gleaming resumes. [...] Tallulah is wonderfully written, directed and acted - in fact debutant feature helmer Sian Heder's writing is exemplary thoughout, her direction solid, and as a debut feature as a whole, this really rather impresses." (4 out of 5) — Paul Heath, The Hollywood News
     
  • "Tallulah is written and filmed very much from a female perspective, with a woman director/screenwriter and three fine actresses at the centre of it. Ellen Page is as reliable and engaging as ever, Allison Janney demonstrates yet again that she’s one of the most criminally underrated actresses around and Tammy Blanchard shines in a role that could be over-cooked far too easily: as she delves deeper into the character, she shifts our attitudes from contempt to compassion." (3.5 out of 5.0) — Freda Cooper, MovieMarker
     
  • "Page and Janney are both on great form, and it’s a pleasure to see the two of them spar and bond across the film, Tallulah’s free spirit clashing with the older woman’s firmly set habits, taking comfort and security within her life’s rigid rules. Blanchard is a bit more one-note, all wispy voice and woozy smiles before giving way to hysteria, but there’s a nice appearance from Uzo Aduba as a child services worker on the case. If nothing else, it’s pretty delightful to see a film led so much by its women, a set of rounded, complex female characters pushing the men firmly into the wings. Heder’s direction offers a few whimsical indie touches in the film’s occasional floaty dream sequences, but for the most part Tallulah’s feet are firmly on the ground, tackling an outlandish scenario head-on." — Dominic Preston, Candid Magazine
     
  • "Carolyn initially appears an intolerable, self-absorbed wreck but Blanchard skilfully reveals her as a more wounded, sympathetic women than first appeared. The interactions between these complex women, as their lives intertwine, are a spectacle to behold and Heder’s calm, flowing direction allows each character space to breathe. Despite the contrivances of the narrative, this is a graceful, emotive, funny exploration of maternal love that is as strong a showcase as any for why we need to address the gender inequality surrounding film directors. [...] A graceful, emotive, funny exploration of maternal love that is as strong a showcase as any for why we need to address the gender inequality surrounding film directors." (4 out of 5) — Luke Channell, HeyUGuys
     
  • "Complex character writing weaves in restrained use of flashback and continually reveals new shades of grey in the triptych of women who are all superbly cast. Getting Page and Janney together again pays off hugely – the two have great chemistry in a surrogate mother/daughter relationship that remains distinct from that of Juno. [...] What could have been a run-of-the-mill TV movie achieves gravitas through developed character motivations and performances given room to breathe. Even when indulging in lighter comedic dialogue, Tallulah circles profound truths." (4 out of 5) — Rachel Brook, One Room With A View
     
  • "A welcome return to form for Ellen Page, Tallulah is a well-meaning examination of what it takes to be a mother and who should have the right to be a parent. There is a fair amount of hand-wringing too, but the performances make this very watchable." — Cassam Looch, Flickreel Review
     
  • "Janney and Page work wonderfully together on screen and both bring grounded and deeply personal performances in their roles. Janney in particular has an interesting plot thread which sees her trying to come to terms with her divorce and newly single life. [...] Unfortunately, despite the brilliant cast, the plot often becomes a lillte too absurd. A big part of this is to do with Page’s character. It feels throughout as though we are supposed to be sympathetic for her kidnapping, but Heder’s script feels like it’s missing just one tiny element to tip us to Tallulah’s side. Without this, at best you feel sorry that she’s gotten to the point of kidnapping, at worst she comes off as a conniving, selfish young girl who has no regard for anyone else as long as she manages to stay out of trouble. [...] Tallulah is an interesting if occasionally absurd story that is helped massively by it’s impressively strong cast. With just a little more time on screen Ellen Page could have catapulted the film to perfection, instead it sits neatly above average and still demands viewing." — Johnny Ellis, Red Carpet News TV
     
  • "Page and Janney are both fantastic in their respective roles, and it’s not hard at all to imagine Page being in the awards conversation come the end of the year. It’s another Oscar-worthy performance from Ellen Page, who really helps add the shades of grey to the moral dilemma in which Tallulah finds herself. [...] The film itself, however, has its flaws. There are some great light-hearted moments littered throughout, but these are at least equalled by the number of jokes that don’t land. And while it’s very much grounded in dramatic territory, it still would have been stronger if these moments had been more finely-tuned. [...] Yet it’s a strong film regardless, and one totally worthy of the global platform Netflix is able to give it." (3 out of 5) — Kenji Lloyd, Final Reel
     
  • "Heder shows no signs of nerves with her first feature, boldly creating a trio of women who are, initially, prickly at best, slowly fleshing them out to reveal each as altogether more complex and exploring notions of motherhood beyond traditional expectations. [...] Signs of Heder's TV work occasionally poke through, such as the desire to add a romance subplot involving Margo's doorman (Felix Solis) when the film would benefit from a leaner approach. An initial foray into magic realism also feels at odds with the rest of the action, although Heder ultimately stays true to the idea in a way many will find rewarding." — Amber Wilkinson, Eye For Film
     
  • "In Tallulah, Sian Heder elicits superb performances from her lead actresses: Allison Janney, Ellen Page and a stunning Tammy Blanchard. Page and Janney have a natural rapport, a mother-daughter chemistry that's funny and touching; even though we know it is built on a lie. Page maintains an appealing quality that allows us to forgive Tallulah’s impulsive and destructive tendencies. Janney lends a heart-rending quality to Margo, a woman reeling from the confusion of losing both her husband and her son. [...] With surprising dashes of magical realism, calm direction and fluid film-making, Sian Heder has crafted a poignant film that's both sad and uplifting - a rueful look at the risks and gains found in our relationships with others and how these can change us. Beautifully acted and sensitively written, Heder's film is a bittersweet pleasure." — R.H. Zelen, /Garbage-file

Release Dates:
 

Country

Date

Festival / Event / Location / Comment

Website

USA

21st - 31st Jan 2016

Sundance Film Festival / World premiere

sundance.org

United Kingdom

2nd - 5th Jun 2016

Sundance Film Festival: London

sundance-london.com

USA

22nd - 27th Jun 2016

Nantucket Film Festival

nantucketfilmfestival.org

USA

12th Jul 2016

Film Independent Screening / LACMA, Los Angeles

filmindependent.org

USA

13th Jul 2016

WGA Screening / Dolby 88, New York City

wgaeast.org

-

29th Jul 2016

Worldwide release

netflix.com

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