Tuesday Review

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There have been numerous interpretations of Death, although Tuesday may contain the most unexpected. If you told someone that a bird was the incarnation of Death, they’d likely envision a raven or crow. In Tuesday, Death is a red parrot resembling Iago from the live-action Aladdin. It’s one of the many creative choices that shouldn’t work. For some, it won’t work, but others will applaud Tuesday for its unique blend of ingredients. When you break the film down to its most basic components, this is a familiar story about a parent accepting their child’s fate. Writer/director Daina O. Pusić adds several special spices, though, resulting in a bold new taste with a powerful kick.

Lola Petticrew plays the titular Tuesday. Side note, this film may have the most bizarrely casual title drop in recent memory. Tuesday is suffering from a terminal illness. It’s never spelled out exactly what’s ailing Tuesday. All we need to know is that it’s the kind of illness that entails hair loss and tubes up your nose without a cure in sight. When a filthy macaw voiced by Arinzé Kene arrives, Tuesday knows that she’s in the presence of Death. Death has been collected countless lives, even remembering Jesus’ crucifixion. In what might be a first, Tuesday manages to strike up a conversation before Death can end her life.

The two become fast friends as Tuesday gives Death a bird bath and introduces him to cannabis. One can’t help but wonder if pot was also the inspiration behind this story. The audience might not believe what they’re seeing, although watching Tuesday befriend the bird leads to some surprisingly profound conversations concerning life, death, and life after death. Despite forming a bond, Death has a job to do. Tuesday doesn’t want to die, but she’s accepted that her illness isn’t going to improve, coming to embrace Death as a welcoming release. Before she lets Death put her out of her misery, Tuesday seeks to make amends with her mother Zora (Julia Louis-Dreyfus).

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Leaving Tuesday with a nurse (Leah Harvey), Zora spends her days pawning possessions to pay for her daughter’s medical bills. Although Zora’s world revolves around Tuesday, she’s reluctant to spend time with her. When Tuesday calls, Zora sends her straight to voicemail. She’ll spend hours just sitting on a park bench, killing time until she has to go home. Even then, Zora won’t acknowledge the elephant in the room. That elephant turns into a parrot before Zora’s eyes. Sometimes, Death grows large enough to engulf a room. Other times, he’s tiny enough to fit inside Tuesday’s ear. Big or small, Death isn’t going anywhere, no matter how hard Zora tries to swallow her grief.

While Louis-Dreyfus has demonstrated her dramatic range in other projects like Enough Said and You Hurt My Feelings, we’ve never seen her in a role like this. Yet, few other actresses could strike the balance required to play Zora. Louis-Dreyfus is authentically devastating as a mother whose love for her daughter is eclipsed by denial. Even when acting opposite against a parrot, Louis-Dreyfus couldn’t be more convincing. That said, Louis-Dreyfus recognizes the absurdity of this scenario, finding comedy in the overarching tragedy.

Death is clearly CGI, but he’s still an impressive technical feat, especially for a film that presumably didn’t have the highest budget. He’s reminiscent of the tree beast from A Monster Calls, another film about accepting death. Where that movie was mainly told from the child’s perspective, Tuesday provides insight into what the daughter and mother are enduring. Both films use fantasy to explore grief, although the fantastical elements in Tuesday are more literal. The lack of ambiguity only makes Tuesday stranger. As surreal as it might be, Tuesday is ultimately a therapeutic film that provides just enough answers amidst the constant head-scratching.

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About Nick Spake

Nick Spake has been working as an entertainment writer for the past ten years, but he's been a lover of film ever since seeing the opening sequence of The Lion King. Movies are more than just escapism to Nick, they're a crucial part of our society that shape who we are. He now serves as the Features Editor at Flickreel and author of its regular column, 'Nick Flicks'.

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