Tuesday Review

Tuesday Movie Poster

The mother of a terminally ill daughter comes face to face with Death itself in the introspective fantasy Tuesday.

How does a parent cope with the immense reality of a child inexorably slipping toward the abyss of eternity? Having carried that burden for quite some time, Zora (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) has fallen into a state of paralyzing denial. Every interaction, every ringing phone, every thought process brings more baggage and burden. The once-healing warmth of the sun and the freshness of a cool summer breeze now seem to share the same grim prognosis as her bedridden daughter Tuesday (Lola Petticrew).

Zora’s near-complete surrender is suddenly, shockingly interrupted by the unthinkable. Her daughter insists that this is the moment that they’ve both been dreading, but why now? Why this moment, and why is Tuesday so resolute in her protestation? She reveals that Death (voiced by Arinzé Kene) has arrived to claim her, uncharacteristically relenting just long enough for them to say their final goodbyes.

This fantastical exploration of life’s ultimate resolution comes from first-time writer/director Daina O. Pusić. Her bold work displays the telltale signs of a story written with much care. However, like many newcomers, Pusić pairs her narrative with a few forced stylistic flourishes. There’s no getting around it: Death in the form of an impassive, indifferent talking parrot is almost guaranteed to be a polarizing choice. You will either go with the quirky flow or dismiss it as utterly ridiculous.

One major win is Pusić’s ability to traverse the thinnest of tightropes. She deftly manages to poke and prod at the fragile tendrils of a topic laden with countless taboos and cultural beliefs. The sensitive questions raised by the material rarely risk insulting one’s personally-held beliefs. It offers just enough flexibility to fit nearly any cultural narrative. That’s no small task when there’s a prattling parrot about.

For those who can accept Death’s visage, the core power of the film lies with Zora. It’s through her character that you most closely connect with the empathy of unrelenting pain and loss. In another standout dramatic performance, Louis-Dreyfus gives the film its best chance for success. She is the unbreakable anchor that allows the story to push its boundaries without breaking. Pusić offers a vision of Death that’s both novel and oddly approachable. While a talking parrot might seem a strange choice, it manages to immediately convey a sense of imbalance and wonder that would be lost with a more recognizable form.

As the studio releasing the film, A24 is known for betting on the unusual. While I’m often critical of many of their selections, in the final summation of this choice, I say, “thank God it’s Tuesday.”

Tuesday Movie Shot
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