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Review: Tuesday (2024)

Tuesday (2024)

Directed by: Daina Oniunas-Pusic

Premise: A teenager dying of a terminal illness (Lola Petticrew) is visited by Death in the form of a talking parrot (voice of Arinzé Kene). The teenager and her mother (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) must face the daughter’s impending death.

What Works: There is a whole subgenre of movies about dying teenagers such as The Fault in Our Stars, Dying Young, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Many of these stories are about characters learning to accept the fate that circumstance has dealt them and reconciling the finiteness of their existence. Tuesday addresses those familiar themes in a way that’s unique. The filmmakers imagine Death as a shapeshifting parrot that visits the dying when their time has come. The title character of Tuesday bargains for a few more hours, enough time to reconcile with her mother who is avoiding the terminal nature of her daughter’s condition. Tuesday is split between the mother and daughter and the filmmakers pivot the emphasis elegantly. The picture stars with its focus on the daughter and gradually shifts to the mother. This picture is partly about the daughter finding some companionship in her final hours and exploring her own complicated feelings about death but the latter part of the story is about the mother learning to accept reality and find a path forward. Tuesday has some exceptional performances by Lola Petticrew and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The actors realize they don’t have to force the pathos of the text; it’s inherent to the subject matter and Petticrew and Louis-Dreyfus focus on creating credible characters and a believable mother-daughter relationship. Given its subject matter, Tuesday has a surprising amount of humor; this is gauged appropriately and serves to humanize the characters. In dealing with death, Tuesday offers a cautiously optimistic vision of the universe and the picture touches spiritual ideas without getting too hokey or sentimental.

What Doesn’t: Tuesday is a dying teenager movie which is inherently difficult subject matter. The filmmaker’s unusual approach—personifying death with a shapeshifting talking bird—probably doesn’t do much to soften the material or make it more accessible; for some viewers it may do the opposite. The difficulty is the point and it’s not fair to criticize the film for that. How viewers feel about Tuesday will likely be dependent upon their willingness to go along with the filmmaker’s unusual approach, namely the talking bird.   

Bottom Line: Tuesday is a unique picture that goes to some difficult places with creativity and sensitivity. It’s rooted in a familiar scenario but Tuesday addresses death and grief with intelligence and artistry.

Episode: #1001 (June 23, 2024)