‘Ottawa’ Tallulah is a Beautiful and Raw Telefilm
THE SHOW: Tallulah (Netflix)
THE MOMENT: Stating the theme
Tallulah, or Lu (Ellen Page) — who lives hand-to-mouth in her van — has done something rash.
She snatched a toddler from an unhappy mother, Carolyn (Tammy Blanchard), an aging sex bomb. Then she passed the baby off as her own to her boyfriend’s mom, Margo (Allison Janney), who’s unhappy for different reasons. Now the police close in on Lu, while Carolyn waits with Margo. “I wished for this to happen,” Carolyn says. “So many times. ‘If only she was gone.’”
“You don’t mean that,” Margo says.
“I did,” Carolyn insists. “I kept waiting for some mommy feeling, but it never came. I thought maybe if I had a baby, my husband would be interested in me again.
“But it’s the opposite. It’s so lonely. Am I a horrible person?”
Margo’s eyes well. “We’re all horrible,” she says. “And we’re all just people.”
Normally I’m not impressed when dialogue hits the theme on the nose. But in this telefilm, it works, beautifully, because it comes from Margo’s character. All three women are drawn both fully and delicately. Each does things that surprise us, but each surprise is true to, and deepens, who they are. That’s a feat.
And can we please share a moment of silent reverence for Janney?
This is one of many beats where she leaves us gaping.
Every parent will relate to an earlier one: Lu mentions that the toddler’s littleness blows her mind. “Then they grow up and hate you,” Margo says, “and it really blows your mind.”