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‘Tuesday’ (review)

Death is one of the few phenomena that is both a mystery and an inevitability.

What form we take afterward, the circumstances of our last breath, the depth of the impact of our departure – all are unknown. The only certainty is that we will all face it eventually.

In filmmaker Daina O. Pusić’s inventive and thoughtful debut feature from A24 – masters of the surreal – we find ourselves staring down not a hooded figure or a pale spirit, but a worn-out parrot with an ear for Ice Cube.

Tuesday is a moving journey through the winding path to acceptance that those left behind must walk.

Lola Petticrew plays the eponymous Tuesday, a teen with a great sense of humor, an affinity for rap, and a terminal illness that keeps her on an oxygen tank and in need of a wheelchair. Her nurse Billie (Leah Harvey) tries to keep her as comfortable as possible while her mother Zora (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) stays as far away as possible from the realities of Tuesday’s situation.

Lola Petticrew carries the weight of impending death with charm, grace, and quiet acceptance. She does not fight to live, but just to hold on long enough to say goodbye to her mother. This gentle nature can turn sharp when Tuesday exhausts kindly and patiently, eventually moving to pointed and cruelly making Zora acknowledge reality. A discussion on how the house is being paid for in the midst of Tuesday’s health struggles show a child that’s still parenting her parent while coming to terms with their own mortality. Petticrew bears all of it beautifully, and even the rage is surgical – just enough to get the point across. Their range is significant and it is exciting to think of what might be next for such a talented young actor.

While Tuesday is the sage driver of the story, the film centers on how Zora can or cannot accept that this is her child’s time to leave.

It is a messy, frustrating truth to come around to in the best of situations, much less when a magical bird is croaking out instructions at you. But Louis-Dreyfus does frustration wonderfully, whether it is comical or heartbreaking. When Tuesday tries to talk to her about death, bills, or any part of reality the intensity of Zora’s furrowed brow tells us everything we need to know before she even opens her mouth.

The film keeps the viewer guessing til the very end.

At no point was I sure what the next set of scenes would bring because each turn around the corner could put you on a hopeful new path or drop you into an ocean of sadness. The surreal nature of the story while dealing with the very bread and butter of the human experience makes for an engaging, confusing, and cathartic film.

 

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