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Tallulah 

Wednesday, Jul 27 2016
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Perhaps unsurprisingly for the feature debut from a writer and producer on Orange is the New Black, Sian Heder's dramedy Tallulah might have worked better as a miniseries. Tallulah (Ellen Page) and Nico (Evan Jonigkeit) are free spirits roaming the country in their van — at least until Nico gets homesick and hitchhikes back to New York. She drives there and arrives first, and after impulsively absconding with the toddler of the wealthy but negligent Carolyn (Tammy Blanchard), Tallulah ingratiates herself into the life of Nico's, mother Margo (Allison Janney), whom Tallulah lets believe is the grandmother of the stolen child. And that's not even bringing in the subplot of Margo's resentment of her ex-husband Steven (John Benjamin Hickey) and his new life with his boyfriend (Zachary Quinto), or Carolyn's search for her missing child with the aid of Detective Kinnie (Uzo Uduba). The performances are solid all around, and as always, Alison Janney would be compelling reading a take-out menu. But Tallulah tackles so many big themes and is so stuffed with characters and ideas that it all could use more breathing room; Carolyn's arc in particular is given something of a short shrift, since this kind of character is not usually treated with such compassion. Still, there are worse sins than being too ambitious.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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